Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Eric Pickles decides NOT to intervene in Kensal Rise Library case

Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has  decided NOT to intervene in the case of the Kensal Rise Library Planning application.  The Brent  Planning Committee decision had been the subject of a call-in request by a member of the public. LINK

The National Planning Casework Unit said:
The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26 October 2012. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.

In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications. This policy gives examples of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that the application should be called in. The Secretary of State has decided, having regard to this policy, not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.

In considering whether to exercise the discretion to call in this application, the secretary of State has not considered the matter of whether this application is EPA Development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011.  The local planning authority responsible for determining this application remains the relevant authority responsible for considering whether these Regulations apply to this proposed development and, if so, for ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are complied with.

In relation to the comments that it is considered the local planning authority of Brent has incorrectly and arbitrarily applied the regulations of the Localism Act 2011 to this proposal and its progression, the Government is concerned that all local authorities should administer the planning system with utmost propriety, However, authorities are independent of central government and are responsible for their actions and decisions to the local electorate, their Auditor and, ultimately, the courts. Ministers have no statutory duty or powers to supervise the general propriety of individual authorities and, therefore, I cannot  comment on London Borough of Brent Council's handling of this matter.
The letter went on to suggest contacting the Council's Monitoring or Complaints officer stating:
It is his or her duty to report to the full council any cases where he or she thinks that the council, one of its committees, sub-committees  or officers is about to or has done something unlawful, improper, or which would constitute maladministration.
They also suggested an approach to the Local Government Ombudsman if this is within 6 months of the original complaint being lodged with the local authority, although they often have more than one stage in their complaints procedure.


  1. Pickles: '....authorities are independent of central government and are responsible for their actions and decisions to the local electorate, their Auditor and, ultimately, the courts. Ministers have no statutory duty or powers to supervise the general propriety of individual authorities'.
    Is this a general principle and, if so, does it have implications for any hopes of Pickles intervening in the racism, victimisation, corruption, nepotism etc etc etc situation with Davani/Ledden/Gilbert/Butt/Potts etc etc etc ?
    Mike Hine

    1. It certainly looks like the ground is being prepared for a similar response, doesn't it?


  2. 'The DCLG response is disappointing - to be polite. The call-in request stressed the newness of the Localism/Asset of Community Value legislation and the need to monitor its implementation, so it's worrying to see the specific points ignored. Brent becomes judge and jury in its own handling of the matter.

    All requests to publish the date of the signing of the Option Agreement have, to date, been ignored. Perhaps an FoI request for release of all correspondence relating to the matter will be more fruitful.

    Meantime, a nasty attempt to diss WM for its earlier blog noting that the planning decision of KRL had been put on hold by the council pending the outcome of the call-in request has been posted on FKRL's Facebook page:

    'Misleading Blog
    Contrary to the Wembley Matters blog,which Francis posted a link to, the planning decision regarding KR library has not been put on hold by Brent Council and the Department of Communities, since there was no case to answer. It will not be sent to the Secretary of State therefore. The Department recommended 'non-intervention' on Friday 26th September, yet Wembley Matters’ misleading report is dated 27th September – and is still there at the time of posting…'

    Here is the text of the email sent by DCLG on 1 Sep, and quoted in the WM blog which clearly the FKRL member didn't bother to read properly - I trust Ms Schonfield wasn't suggesting Martin had lied? -

    'Thank you for your email set out below addressed to the Secretary of State, your email will be passed to my colleague...who is already considering this application on behalf of the Secretary of State, and while she is working on the case the council have an agreement with us not issue a decision. I understand from my colleague that Brent council are currently preparing a S106.

    The letter with the DCLG decision, dated 26 September, wasn't received until Monday 29 September (second-class 'austerity' stamp), two days after Martin posted his blog. Ms Schonfield owes Martin Francis an apology. As for her lofty, arrogant assertion that 'there was no case to answer', it seems that FKRL wishes to be judge and jury in the case, alongside the council. It's noticeable that FKRL has failed to comment on the referral to the CPS of the fake email business. Perhaps Ms Schonfield would like to pass judgement on that also...

    1. The Option Agreement between All Souls and the Developer was signed on 26 November 2012. This was publicised in an update on the Save Kensal Rise Library website on 7th December 2012. This has been publically available information.
      Surely it is the job of the CPS to pass judgement on the fake email referral not FKRL or the council?
      The DLGC have recommended non-intervention not FKRL or the council.
      Who is 'dissing' whom? And why?

  3. '...while she is working on the case the council have an agreement with us not issue a decision'. That's clear enough - Brent Council DID put its planning decision on Kensal Rise Library on hold pending the outcome of the DCLG decision on the call-in request.

    I've just checked the FKRL Facebook page and it seems Ms Schonfield is backtracking, referring now to 'a somewhat, inaccurate non-story...'. As for her assertion that the call-in request 'will not be sent to the Secretary of State, here's what the 26 September letter stated: 'The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy'. Ms Schonfield FB comments are wholly inaccurate, and do FKRL no favours.

  4. The change in zoning from D1 to residential was not challenged in this submission so there is another opportunity to refer back to Pickles.

    Pass the parcel how so good our politicians are at it rather than stand up for justice.

  5. Next step

    Write to all MP's stating the legislation to protect public assets is a complete joke !

    What would they immediately do if elected.

    This might get Pickles and his crew to actually do something, rather than pass buck back down to Local Authorities.

    I bet if Kensal Rise Library where in a safe Tory seat, Pickles would have immediately stepped in.

    Everyone trying to save Assets of Community Value might realize Kensal Rise is a test case for the powers of the legislation and the politicians who enact such legislation. Just as the library movement galvanized support, ACV could start to become an election issue.

  6. All Souls College claims that it signed the Option Agreement on 26 November 2012. The date the agreement was signed by Andrew Gillick has never been published - all dates were redacted in the document which the Information Commissioner ordered released after a successful FoI appeal - link here was posted on an earlier WM blog


    1. A property barrister confirmed today that an Option Agreement does not have to be signed by the two parties - vendor and buyer - on the same date. This leaves wide open the question of whether developer Andrew Gillick signed the Option Agreement to purchase Kensal Rise Library BEFORE the listing of the library as an Asset of Community Value by Brent Council. This leads directly to the question of whether the six-month moratorium on the sale - allowing for an alternative bid - should have kicked in.