Thursday 1 December 2016

After rancorous Scrutiny Committee a chance to move forward on Granville?

Cllr Roxanne Mashari's scalp was still intact at the end of yesterday's Scrutiny meeting on the Carlton/Granville redevelopment despite the best efforts of the cross-party combo,  'The Two Johnnies', Cllrs Warren and Duffy.

Cllr Warren had proposed that Cllr Mashari, lead member for Regeneration be stood down from the South Kilburn part of her portfolio because of 'her failure to reply to several important e-mails or to visit the Granville Centre or the school during the period July-October 2016 causing the local community to believe Brent Council was intending to demolish a community asset without consultation.'

Instead he proposed that a Task Force be set up led by the council leader and include the three Kilburn ward councillors and one or two members of the local community. The  Task Force 'should review and ensure that there is a balance (of) private sector housing, social sector housing and community services, such as Health centres, Schools, Employment Hubs and Community Centres.

The Committee Chair, Cllr Kelcher, attempted to prevent what he deemed personal attacks  on Cllr Mashari from both Cllr Warren and Duffy.

Much of the controversy hinged on the July Cabinet's approval of Option 2 on the redevelopment of Carlton-Granville which residents and users saw as approving complete demolition of the site. This is the actual record on the Cabinet decision:
(i)        that approval be given to Option 2 for redeveloping the Carlton & Granville Centres, Granville Road, London, NW6 5RA (the subject site) to deliver 95 new homes, an Enterprise Hub and 3274sqm of additional community use space;

(ii)       that a further update be provided to formally approve final scheme plans and the required capital investment to bring forward the phased redevelopment of the Carlton and Granville Centres and ensure continuity of occupation for the Enterprise Hub within the site;

(iii)      that the site be included within the scope of the South Kilburn Masterplan review to ensure wider place making considerations are incorporated;

(iv)      that the Strategic Director for Resources in consultation with the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Finance Officer enter into a legal agreement with the South Kilburn Trust and the GLA to secure their funding contributions in return for project delivery of the Enterprise Hub by March 2018, and setting out Council commitment to underwrite the shortfall in project funds;

(v)       that authority be delegated to the Strategic Director for Resources in consultation with the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Finance Officer to oversee scheme development through further viability testing, local consultation, and planning consent;

(vi)      that authority be delegated to the Strategic Director for Resources in consultation with the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Finance Officer in respect to any works and/or professional services contracts for scheme development to agree pre-tender considerations, invite tenders and thereafter award the contract.

Reason Key: Significant expenditure/savings > 30% of budget for the function in question
Cllr Mashari pointed out that she was not the lead on the July report and admitted that consultation on it had been poor. In his contribution Cllr Nerva said that it was a pity that the councillors responsible (Ed: Cllr Butt (Property and Cllr McLennan) were not present. Certainly I got the distinct impression that Cllr Mashari had been hung out to dry by her colleagues so the proposal to make Cllr Butt the lead was a little strange to say the least.

Cllr Mashari said:
I'll be as transparent and clear and collaborative as possible going forward (on the project). We can't go back in time. I can only guarantee clarity in the future.
Away from the Warren/Duffy-Mashari battle the actual local users of the Centre made passionate speeches about the essential services they provided for the local community. Responding to officer claims that the facilities were under-used  Leslie Barson said that the Council itself had acted to limit its use leading to the run-down. The headteacher and Chair of Governors spoke about the many services offered by Granville Nursery Plus and the £800k extension that had been built for the school.

In the course of the discussion Richard Barrett, Director of Regeneration, seemed to suggest that this building would go when said that the headteacher and her team would be asked to put forward ideas for the nursery school provision and that his team would then turn it into building plans. However, during interchanges it became clear that the South Kilburn Trust would be the senior partner in the redevelopment. Cllr Mashari said that the regeneration of South Kilburn should take into account the need for 'social' regeneration.

Cllr Rita Conneely said that it was important to be clear whether the November report, which was actually the subject of the call-in, was an extension of the July report or an over-turning of that report. In response Cllr Mashari said that 'we have more or less said that complete demolition is not now an option. There is a step change from the July report and that will be shown in the coming months.'

Cllr Pitruzella called for involvement of ward councillors in proposals that affected their ward well in advance of any proposals going to Cabinet. Cllr Duffy said that the council would get more value from developers if they involved people who actually know the local area. Cllr Nerva claimed that one of the reasons for the confusion was the lack of detail of each lead member's portfolio responsibilities.

Towards the end of the meeting during tense exchanges with Cllr Duffy, Cllr Mashari stating that this was not the only occasion there had been conflict with her Labour colleague, revealed that she was asking for disciplinary action against him. She did not specify the form of disciplinary action but this could be through the Labour Party's own procedures or the Council's Code of Conduct for Members.

The Committee decided not to refer back the November decision and instead made the following recommendations:

1) Continuation of Granville Nursery Plus was paramount and the school to be involved in the full design process.
2) Mechanisms need to be adopted to fully involve ward councillors before such reports go to Cabinet (this would be referred to the Constitution Working Group)
3) A full 12 month timetable for the collaborative work on the redevelopment proposals should be constructed as soon as possible and brought back to the Scrutiny Committee
4) Scrutiny should received a full report in six month's  time from lead members and officers on moving the project forward with details of consultations and the progress of collaborative work on the project.

This morning Cllr Duffy wrote to his Labour colleagues giving his take on last night's meeting: (typos corrected)
Dear All,

Went to the Scrutiny Committee last night, to raised the issue of why the Cabinet agreed a report to demolish a thriving community centre and a local school to maximise investment from the private sector and devastate community assets.This was not a mistake this was done by the Cabinet (Neil Kinnock accent) a Labour Cabinet, knowing they had not consulted the school or community centre or local councillors.

The report was agreed in July, but because I highlighted it saying "I would not give it political cover "and a strong community campaign.They were force to reverse it in November.   

At the meeting usual stuff happen. I had put a lot of effort into highlighting the cabinet attempt to demolish the school and centre.However the Chair of the meeting ruled because the first person to call in the report was Cllr Warren he was allowed introduce it that I could only ask 2 questions, not bother I am used of it.

Cllr Warren introduce the item and questioned whether Cllr Mashari was hindering the project by her lack of action and her failure to engage with residents and local councillors, between July and November. The Chair ruled him out of order and said we can only talk about the November meeting ,the fact the November meeting was a result of the failure of the July meeting seemed to escape the Chair. .

A number of residents spoke The Granville centre,The Head of the School, The Chair of Governors, The South Kilburn Trust and both Cllr Connelly and  Cllr Pitruzzella spoke .

Cllr Mashari replied saying she was sorry about the lack of consultation and it was not her fault its was Cllr Butt's fault and various officers, one of whom had nothing to do with the July report. Neil Nevra also spoke saying it was Cllr Butt's fault and he should be called to the meeting.

As I say I was limited to 2 questions which were (1) Why did she vote to demolish the Granville Centre knowing no consultation had taken place?  (2) Why did you not answer any emails or attend any meeting or visit Kilburn between July and November to assure the local community? Cllr Mashari refused to answer the questions as she said she had referred me for disciplinary action which is news to me? The Chair said she did not have to answer the questions so we will never know why she voted to demolish the Granville centre and why she went AWOL between July and November.

The outcome was OK, I think Cllr Mashari was force to make concessions like real consultation and that consultation to be recorded before she makes a decision. Cllr Butt was found guilty in his absence so Cllr Mashari and Cllr Nerva are happy .

I am still a little bemused by the fact the person who voted to demolish Granville centre is now in charge of saving it and the same person who ignored the fact no consultation had taken place is in charge of consultation, but you can't have everything.

So on the night the Kilburn councillors and community seem to have saved the Granville centre from the clutches of the cabinet and Cllr Mashari's wings have been clipped, but did not get a Task- Force to deliver the regeneration of Kilburn ,which is unfortunate but all in all I'm happy.
 Perhaps now South Kilburn residents will be treated with due respect.


Anonymous said...

Surprised you didn't mention Stopp's savaging of Mashari here, Martin... Don't want to give him any more oxygen?

Anonymous said...

'The Two Johnnies', eh? One more needed for a 'Packet of Three'.

(Ask your grandad).

Anonymous said...

The link between poor mental health in young people and their what they are being deprived of should be emphasised in a campaign against the property developers' fair MIPIM by which council leaders etc are wined and dined to make decisions that exclude a brighter prospectus for youth.

MIPIM is an offshoot of Reed-MIDEM, and Reed-MIDEM is owned by RELX, formerly known as Reed-Elsevier. Campaigning by professionals in medicine and science previously persuaded Reed-Elsevier to concede that the armaments, surveillance and torture exhibition known as DSEI was/is injurious to people's wellbeing; so Reed-Elsevier pulled out of DSEI.

Whether RELX can be persuaded to ditch MIPIM or not, I believe that with periodical titles such as Community Care and medical publications under its belt, RELX is bad for mental health of poorer people.

Yet how about council leaders being invited to bring and share meals with the people they are into socially cleansing from 'development areas'? See Bob Holman's 2008 article in Community Care, Poor must meet [the Prime Minister].

Alan Wheatley