Monday 27 June 2016

Residents to challenge Brent Council on playing field handover to Lycee at Cabinet tonight

Residents from the John Billam, Tenterden Parks and Neighbourhood Group will make representations to the Brent Cabinet tonight on plans to hand the Tenterden Pavilion and playing fields over to the Lycee des Londres Winston Churchill.

They will ask the Cabinet  to:

1. Defer or refuse the officers' recommendation that an agreement be entered into with Wembley Education Charitable Trust, the charity arm of the Lycee.
2. Reserve any decision in respect of the Community Asset Transfer to be made by the Cabinet and not delegated to any other body or person.
3. Confirm the erection of any new building on the site be confined to the footprint of the present building.
4. Agree stipulations for any proposal for an artificial pitch on the site.

This controversy follows others in the borough including the loss of public access to playing fields at the  site now occupied by Ark Academy in Wembley Park; loss of public access to former public space  behind Copland (now Ark Elvin) High School; the proposed move of the London Welsh school to King Edward VII Park, plans to hand over land at Kingsbury High School to Lucozade Power League, and further away in Harrow the public school's plans for new buildings defiling Metropolitan Open Land.

The Tenterden Group claim that the WECT has been unable to conclude negotiations for access to the long-established local Forest United and further that officers are 'well disposed' towards the Lycee. They claim that the Community asset transfer process has not been fair, open and transparent:
The French Lycee are not only a default bidder in what was intended to be a competitive open tender process but the sole funded proposer. In 2014 a comprehensive professionally prepared plan was agreed in principle between Forest united and the then Head of Parks, Ms G Kiefer. The plan provided  an integral; solution to the John Billam and Tenterden Playing fields and enjoyed community support. The critical elements in the plan were the incorporation of the John Billam and Tenterden pitches and a specific restriction on any new building exceeding the Tenterden Pavilion footprint. There was further provision that any pitch on Tenterden Playing Fields should not be enclosed but retained for public access when not in authorised sports use.
The Group claim that the CAT process has been compromised so far as no other accredited sports club can now re-enter the process and that as sole builder the Lycee has been given latitude beyond the prescribed closure date. There is no properly structured agreement on community benefit or participation - the sole benefit cited is polling station provision. (the Lycee has failed to provide this in 2 our of 3 occasions since it took over the former Brent Town Hall). Similarly there are no detailed plans for redevelopment of the Pavilion which raises concerns about the possibility of substantial development on the site.

The campaigners suggest that the officers' claim that the Lycee fufills various equality and diversity requirements is misleading in that less than 20% of its students  reside in Brent and only 20% of these are from ethnic minorities. The average fee is £10,500 and the Lycee is funded by the French Chamber of Commerce and has been described as 'popular with super-rich French business people fleeing to London to escape tax hikes.'

In that context the granting of a 30 year lease at a peppercorn rent  to the Lycee, with potential further development via peripheral clauses, of a site with a land value exceeding £2m raises fundamental questions.

The Cabinet Meeting is at 7pm this evening at Brent Civic Centre.


Anonymous said...

Aren't all the Lycee pupils French? Then surely they're ALL from an ethnic minority.

Philip Grant said...

There are very good reasons for asking Cabinet to defer the decision on the hand-over of the Tenterden Sports Grounds to WECT.

The first is that there does need to be an agreement in place between WECT and Forest United BEFORE any decision is made.

The second is that the Officers' statement that the WECT offer has the financial backing of the French Government may have been overtaken by events!


Anonymous said...

The children are white and need to check their priviledge.