In an exchange of emails a Wembley resident has accused Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt of misrepresenting their views on the Ark Elvin Academy planning application due to be heard at tonight's Planning Committee.
The allegations concern a meeting between Butt and residents on the site at the weekend. In an emollient letter Butt said:
At the meeting I was glad to hear from yourself and all the people present that you were not against the development of the school and that you understood that the new school will benefit the local area in helping to shape the demand for school places, so that children will not have to travel far from their homes. The current school building is in a poor state of repair and the new proposals will deliver a high quality facility that will enhance the learning environment for the students and in conjunction with the new management team at Ark Elvin under the leadership of the Head Annabel Bates, we will improve the life chances for those students.
Butt is on the governing body of Ark Elvin.
Responding Chetan Patel wrote:
I'm surprised and concerned with regards to your email reply, which is wholly inaccurate, untruthful and misleading.I would like to record, I didn't say I was in support of the planning application. This is very well documented in my numerous correspondence, which you have also been copied into. Please confirm if you want me to resend all my correspondence opposing the planning application to yourself.You also stated all the residents at the meeting were in support of the scheme. This statement also completely wrong. The residents only agreed the school required modernisation. None of residents at the meeting agreed with the proposed Planning Application, which adopts Jesmond Avenue for construction access traffic.I can also confirm the residents have never been invited by Kier (the developer) or the council to participate in two discussions with regards to mitigation of construction impact. We have only ever been told what will be imposed upon us. It feels more like a dictatorship.If you feel my record of this meeting is still incorrect, we can have this debate again at the Planning Committee meeting on the 22nd October 2015.I'm very disappointed in your email and I hope the Planning Committee are not unduly influenced by Muhammed Butt's poor recollection of this meeting.
Patel, who is due to make a delegation to the Planning Committee this evening, has also been involved in an exchange with Fiona Alderman. Referring to his claim that the Planning Application was not valid because it did not deal with the issue of a Public Right of Way across the playing fields Alderman wrote:
The assessment of such claimed cannot be carried out by the Planning Committee and must instead be dealt with by a separate process by Transport Department. My view is that there is no impediment to the Planning Committee considering and determining the application.
Chetan Patel replied:
There are legal procedures which apply when rights of way are affected by development. Development is defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as “the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land”. The Act says that, with certain exceptions, planning permission must be obtained before development is carried out.The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has guidance (refer to section 48.d, attached) for local authorities on the validation of planning applications. The guidance states that applications for full planning permission should be accompanied by a plan of the proposed development showing all rights of way crossing or adjoining the site. I believe the claimed ‘Public Right of Way’ by myself any other residents by way of the 20 year easement period, should be shown on the Planning Application, but is missing from the Planning Application ref 15/3161.If an application for planning permission affects a right of way (claimed Pubic Right of Way) then a special rule applies and the application must be advertised at the proposed site and in a local paper. This is an materially important so residents can make comments about them.
The Planning Committee is at 7pm this evening at Brent Civic Centre.This means that, while the existence of a right of way across the site of a proposed development won’t automatically mean an application is rejected, the fact that it is there must be taken into account by the officer or committee which decides the application.
Anyone else get the impression that quantity surveyor Chetan Patel is a lot better informed on this subject (and more literate) than either Butt or Alderman?
Two Wembley Central councillors down to speak tonight...
I do hope that residents are given proper opportunity to speak. I went on a planning visit to a site last week which people are objecting to. It's been bounced once before and at that time, I was pretty impressed with the chair. However, we were far less happy this time, when it was stated that they only wanted ONE person to speak to the committee to represent ALL objections. Two minutes would most certainly not cover the wide range of problems with the application. I got the distinct impression that they wanted to curtail the length of tonight's meeting, especially as it was stated that it ought to be over by nine! The last one, which three of us spoke at, went till about eleven thirty. It feels as though Brent are really trying to push and rush things through.
Allegations that Cllr. Muhammed Butt has misrepresented things are becoming a recurring theme; see:
If Chetan Patel believes that Cllr. Butt has not been honest in his actions as a Councillor in this matter, he is entitled to complain about this breach of Brent's Members' Code of Conduct to the Monitoring Officer at Brent Council, and to ask for the alleged breach to be referred to Brent's Standards Committee.
I cannot guarantee that any such request will be successful, as the Monitoring Officer is Fiona Alderman. Despite being Brent Council's Chief Legal Officer, she can sometimes come up with legal interpretations which, in my experience, are questionable, to say the least!
Is Butt being a govenor of the school a conflict of interest?
YES. Cllr. Butt should have declared this interest on any occasion when he has contributed to any Council discussions on this matter.
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