Tuesday 17 June 2014

Kensal Rise Library development decision deferred pending legal advice on fraud

The planning application by Andrew Gillick  for the redevelopment of Kensal Rise Library, closed by Brent Council, was deferred tonight at a dramatic meeting of Brent Planning Committee,

Committee membership was reduced by two members when Cllr Shafique Choudhary and Cllr Dan Filson withdrew on the basis that they had expressed strong views prior to joining the Committee.
This left 5 members, including the chair Sarah Marquis, to make the decision.

It had seemed that the fraudulent email investigation had been ignored when the meeting went ahead without any statement about deferment pending the outcome of the current police investigation into fraudulent emails that had supported Mr Gillick's last application.

Karl Abeyasekera, speaking as a member of the public drew members' attention to the fraudulent email issue saying that the 'guilty party' could benefit materially from this application. He called for the Committee to defer pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Stephanie Schonfield of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library spoke in support of the application  and said they had put their trust in All Souls College and the developer and hoped they would reciprocate by supporting FKRL to manage the community space. She regretted that they were only the preferred bidder and not the named occupant.

Horatio Chance, the Committee's legal adviser  told members that the 'binding agreement' with All Souls College was excempt from the Localism Act and had no relevance to the Kensal Rise building's Asset of Community Value status.

Following other contribututions, including a question from Cllr Amer Agha about the email investigation, and the developer's agent saying the community space had to be offered to other voluntary organisations  and ot resreved for FKRL, it looked as if the Committee was about the vote when chair Sara Marquis dropped her bombshell. She made a statement from the chair. She said that despite legal advice to the contrary she could not see why an ongoing police investigation into the previous application could NOT be a material consideration.

There followed a potentially testy but lawyerly interchange with Horation Chance, the Committee's legal adviser, on whether the Committee were legally bound to make a decision on the application on purely planning grounds, ignoring the email investigation. Chance in near exasperation declared that the legal advice  was clear and had come from no less a person than Fiona Ledden.

Marquis insisted the Committee needed further legal advice on whether the fraud investigation should be taken into account and when Chance could add nothing further she said that the Committee should vote on deferment. Various officers warned that the applicant might appeal to thre Secretary of State over the delay and seek compensation.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, a Cabinet member and former lead member for Environment, who played a large part in brokering the deal with FKRL, made a late attempt to speak. Cllr Marquis rejected the request as the section for contributions had finished and she pointed out that the councillor had had the chance to put in a request to speak with the two days notice required of councillors.

The Committee voted on whether to hear the planning application, and only Cllr Kasangara, perhaps reflecting Conservative values, said that fraud was of no account and the vote on the application should go ahead.

The Committee then voted 3 for  (Cllrs Marquis, Agha, Hylton), 1 against  (Cllr Kasangara)and 1 abstention (Cllr Lia Colacicco) on the motion to defer the decision on the application until further legal advice had been obtained. This will mean the application  returning on the next cycle to the Committee that meets on July 16th.

This was not a vote to await the outcome of the police investigation but to decide if the investigation was something that the Committee should take into account.

It was also clear from the councillors' questions, or lack of them, that they were only concerned about minor aspects of the application itself, so it looks likely to eventually go through given the number of supporting letters. Unless there are further developments...

Cllr Sarah Marquis deserves credit for showing the sort of independence and toughness that one should expect from a Chair of Planning.

Marquis is a lawyer and specialises in fraud and white collar crime.

As a newly elected councillor, chairing her first committee, she has already made her mark.


Anonymous said...

Well done Sarah Marquis, you did us all proud.

Perhaps there is a god after all ?

So much for FKRL claiming otherwise.

It will be very interesting what further Fiona Ledden and her bunch of less than adequate lawyers. She should have had everything at her finger tips given concerns that have been raised in past few months.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Martin for your speedy report. Could you confirm who abstained in the vote? Presumably the chair, unless they are needed for the casting vote?

Anonymous said...

So: The Committee then voted 3 for, 1 against and 1 abstention.

Which ways did the votes go?

Anonymous said...

re Cllr Roxanne Mashari is 'brokering' a euphemism for leading FKRL down the garden path? How will this impact upon her credibility?

Martin Francis said...

Report amended above to give names. Cllr Lia Colacicco (Mapesbury) abstained.

Anonymous said...

This whole matter could have been resolved much sooner if FKRL Has not been so stubborn and accepted the real need for the alleged fraud investigation to complete.

It is assumed this is a new Planning Application because Gillick dissolved the original Platinum Revolver and therefore application is via a new company ?

If this is the case, Sarah Marquis should question this on round 2 or hopefully Fiona Ledden will be more diligent before any further report is considered !

Anonymous said...

Interesting point.

Yes why is this planning application considered a totally separate application ?

Surely it should be considered as an ammendment to the original ?

This also highlights the ability of Developers to act like cowboy builders ie setting up new companies, bankrupting the old, before taking deposits for work and leaving people in the lurch when work is not completed and claiming the old business is in liquidation.

Gillick seems to be playing this trick, but this time to secure planning permission and even getting Brent Council officers to claiming they can't consider any previous allegations of fraud are immaterial, as it does not relate to the current new planning application using a new company.

This surely can't be acceptable procedure ?

Anonymous said...

Just goes to shoe she just wanted to be re-elected, rather than considering the complexity of this planning application.

It will be interesting to watch Barham Park also unravel before their eyes !

The waste of all this could have bought a new library or part of a school by now.

We have 4 more years of this lot to go !

Anonymous said...

Seems like Sarah Marquis has realized her professional legal reputation could be tarnished if she had not acted accordingly.

Bravo for Sarah Marquis

I hope she keeps it up and we can get to the bottom of even more scandals, including Copland when this site might eventually reach planning committee and planning officers are unlikely to do a thorough job.

Perhaps Ledden, Weekes, Davani and Gilbert have met their match and we will see transparency and accountability.

Lets all hope so

Anonymous said...

This might be a wake up call to Brent officers.

No more slap dash and think Councillors will not question the big issues !

claremounties said...

In any case, why waste everybody's time by putting it on the Agenda in the first instance; without clarification of the legal issue beforehand? Do the homework and prepare surely. Could any of the officers 'run' an egg and spoon race? All the rhetoric about money being tight, and everything seems to be done in the least efficient, cost-effective way possible.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting for Horatio Chance to give more explanation as to why he assets the legally binding agreement is exempt from Localism Act ?

This is an issue that needs to be challenged and perhaps some form of legal ruling is required and not just the say so from a legal person, as another legal person might disagree with the assertion made by Chance.

Anonymous said...

Well-said, commentators above, 10.23/10.39, re Gillick's companies/ name-changes. A little more info re same:

- Platinum Revolver Ltd, the company used for the developer's first, unsuccessful planning application, was dissolved on 24 Sep 2013 within days of the application being refused planning permission
(http://www.companiesintheuk.co.uk/ltd/platinum-revolver). It was subsequently relaunched as Platinum Land Ltd which, disconcertingly, is listed as having been incorporated as a company in February 2011 when it didn't yet exist. It is now, apparently Mr Gillick's oldest firm -


- Kensal Properties Ltd, the company under whose name the current planning application is lodged, is listed as being founded only on 16 January 2013, some two months AFTER the Option Agreement (OA) between Andrew Gillick and All Souls College for the purchase of KRL was signed, and seemingly days prior to the exchange of contracts under the OA (the 'binding agreement'). It can reasonably deduced that the OA is in Andrew Gillick's name, and not one of his companies.

Seconding a commentator above for Martin Francis speedy posting of this blog - after a busy evening tweeting live from the Civic Centre. This is the kind of scrutiny that's needed.

And to Sarah Marquis - bravo for a much-needed show of independent thinking in her refusal to take as gospel Fiona Ledden's legal diktat! A warm welcome to the new councillor.

But let's not get carried away. As the blog says, deferral was 'not a vote to await the outcome of the police investigation but to decide if the investigation was something that the Committee should take into account'. The worst possible scenario would be the granting of planning permission before the police have completed their investigation, leading to the subsequent dropping of the fraudulent email inquiry. That must not be allowed to happen.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree.

Apart from national election next there is now no hurry now.

So lets get the police investigation underway and find out what the investigation might dig up.

It would now seem rather pointless to consider this planning application until the fraud investigation has concluded !

Anonymous said...

Any time I have attended planning committee I have wondered how some of the cllrs managed to function in real life when they couldn't understand the simplest of issues - it made a mockery of the council.
At last someone with a bit of sense.
But does that mean another leadership challenge at some point?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps hubris on Fiona Ledden's part - never thinking that the independent planning committee would dare question her ruling - is the answer to Margaret Smith's question. Poor Horatio Chance seemed helpless, citing the name of Brent's head of law as if that were enough to resolve a serious legal question. Thank goodness Sarah Marquis can think for herself. Her independence of mind is an excellent wake-up call to the new council, and its executive, and a reassuring boost for local residents: stop trying to rail-road matters through planning.

Meantime it's worth looking at two other WM blogs from this week - and it's only Wednesday! (bow to Martin)

- Brent Council to lease out two floors of Civic Centre... http://wembleymatters.blogspot.com/2014/06/brent-council-to-lease-out-two-floors.html?spref=tw


- Brent Council spends £15m on temporary staff & £5m on interims and consultants ('the average daily rate was £414')


Is it for this that Kensal Rise library (and five others) were closed? With pupils apparently unable to find room to work in the new Civic Centre library, surely it's time to re-consider branch closures?

Anonymous said...

This really needs to be thoroughly checked particularly the legality of contracts including the claim by Chance that the leaglly binding agreement has no relevancy to Asset of Community Value and Localism Act.

As it would seem Gillick is trying to by-pass Localism Act, the way agreements have been structured, this needs looking into and not simply the say so of Chance.

A judge could easily conclude the Contract is null and void and the building should be re-tendered as it would seem the contract, the way it is structured is trying to circumvent the Localims Act.

Many other unscrupulous developers could do the same with such sharades.

Anonymous said...

This simply does not sit right if Chance claims the first application and fraud investigation is immaterial and is claiming that because the applicant in the second application is different company.

This shows the whole planning system can be manipulated by the developer in their favour.

Brent Council has to get to the bottom of this and not just the issue with alleged fraud, but the way these applications have been moved from 1 company to another. In planning terms should they be treated as one and the same rather than separate applications ?

If as you suggest, Gillick holds the library asset personally, perhaps this can be used as the deciding factor in terms of planning application being 1 and the same, rather than 2 different applications.

Anonymous said...

Chance's assertion is based on Brent's counsel's opinion (reached after All Souls' (AS) own counsel decided the Optional Agreement between Gillick and AS exempted AS from having to adhere to the guidelines of the sale of the Kensal Rise Library building - an Asset of Community Value - as enacted in the Localism Act). So, it seems you're right: Chance isn't citing an independent legal opinion; a judge hasn't arrived at that conclusion in a court of law. Chance - for clarity - ought to be stating that Brent's lawyers have concluded that AS is exempt. But, the above report also indicates that Chance cites Ledden as the basis for his belief about AS's exemption.

Anonymous said...

This has to be tested in a Court of Law.

Brent could do themselves proud if they put the onus back on the developer to seek such a ruling.

If for example Brent concluded the contract is subject to Localism Act it would be up to the developer to prove otherwise via seeking Secretary of State ruling.

Gillicks financiers might also start to get cold feet if they realise the Secretary of State will have to rule on validity of the contract.

This could force a new sale if financier start backing out with new sale community able to fully participate and return the build to the community where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

One thing that is troubling is how Ledden seems to be always focus on risk that a developer might appeal and seek damages.

Therefore she seems to take the developers view that it would be better to accept the developers demands rather than potential for developer seek damages.

Are there any statistics showing the number of developers who actually appeal and seek damages for loss of time etc.

Surely this is part of the risk of being a developer and the public purse should not have to pick up the tab unless in very extreme circumstances there is a very good reason such as clear political bias ?

Developers can't have it both ways. development should be high risk high returns or low risk low returns or share those returns with the community for example if planning permission is to be granted.

The current offer where developed gets 80 % of building is skewed in favour of developer

Anonymous said...

To bring clarity to the community a statement FKRL would be helpful.

FKRL have always opposed waiting until Police investigation is completed, despite them instigating the investigation in the first place.

Concluding the Police investigation should be No 1 priority, so that the end result does not continue to divide the community ?

A statement would be helpful from FKRL.

In recent months the community has been divided into those that want to accept Hillo

Anonymous said...


From today's Barnet and Whetstone Press: 'Fake planning responses being investigated'

http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=20542&headline=Fake planning responses being investigated

Anonymous said...

I bet this is the tip of a huge fraud.

This has to be fully investigated and given Sarah Marquis previous post with Serious Fraud Office she needs to take the initiative and get police action.

This type of fraud has gone undetected, but now it is out in the open the community need answers and not a cover up.

Anonymous said...


Vital, now, that Brent police be allowed to complete their investigation before the developer's latest planning application is heard, as it seems the practice is spreading. Was the Barnet case influenced by that of KRL?

Anonymous said...

It appears that the link to the Barnet and Whetstone Press, above 18 June 22.33, has been removed from the paper's website. Awaiting the editor's response as to why.

Anonymous said...

More on Platinum Revolver/Platinum Land - a modified post from WM latest blog
'Now email fraud revealed in Barnet planning application'


* all trace of Andrew Gillick's previous firm Platinum Revolver Ltd - in whose name his original application for Kensal Rise Library was lodged - appears to have disappeared from the official Companies House website


** Platinum Revolver was renamed Platinum Land Ltd - according to this non-Companies House link - on 24 Sep 2013



*** a search of previous company names for Platinum Land Ltd brings up not Platinum Revolver but another company, Platinum Land & Property Ltd, which had a name-change - but from what is unclear - on 28/07/2010. Platinum Land Ltd wasn't incorporated until February 2011;

then, hey presto

**** check for 'Dissolved' names of Platinum Land Ltd (still on search for Platinum Revolver) and what appears is once again not Platinum Revolver but Platinum Land & Planning Ltd which was itself dissolved on 27 May 2014...

Perhaps Mr Gillick would like to enlighten Wembley Matters' readers as to what's going on. For my part, I now need a drink...

Anonymous said...

You don't always post under your name do you Meg?

Anonymous said...

Are you certain it's Meg who posted the comment to which you refer?

Anonymous said...

Meg has been tweeting the editor of the Barnet Times to ask why the story was withdrawn

Anonymous said...

I've just checked Meg's tweet - it was sent 9 hrs ago, that's to say at around 14.00 hrs. The comment above was posted at 12.36.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, 22.47, others may also have tweeted Barnet Times about this story.

Anonymous said...

I posted the comment above, 12.36, after emailing the editor of the newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Highly relevant to Kensal Rise Library New Draft development plan and loss of social infrastructure p86 of new draft report. It would seem to be if this adopted Gillick should be providing "Affordable Housing" whatever "affordable means.

"Loss of Social Infrastructure
Loss of social infrastructure, including redundant premises and land, will only be acceptable in exceptional
circumstances where:
a. a replacement facility of at least equivalent quality and quantity is provided on the site or at a suitable
alternative location; or
b. it can be demonstrated there is no longer a need for the social infrastructure facility. Where this is the
case, evidence will be required to show that the loss would not create, or add to, a shortfall in provision for
the specific community use and demonstrate that there is no demand for any other suitable social infrastructure
on the site.
Where the loss of social infrastructure is acceptable, the council’s preferred new use will be affordable