Monday 16 January 2017

Brent Cabinet 'thrilled' by land deal with off-shore companies

A Cabinet meeting tonight, which devoted about 3 minutes to each item on the agenda, approved the Council's controversial Stonebridge-Bridge Park land deal with off-shore companies.  The Lead Member for the issue is Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, who now appears to be leading on Regeneration, and he spoke glowingly of the project, the removal of the 'eye sore' Unisys and the opportunities it offered to the Council.

In a rushed but stumbling speech Cllr Butt claimed that the off-shore risk was mitigated by  the creation of a UK subsidiary company by the off-shore GMH with off-shore Harborough Invest acting as the second guarantor.

The issue was covered by the Kilburn Times LINK today as well as by Wembley Matters LINK a week ago but this stimulated no questionning by any members of the Cabinet and Deputy Leader Margaret McLennan outdid her leader in euphoria declaring that she was 'thrilled' by the deal. No questions were asked and no discussion took place before the proposal was rubber-stamped.

For 'those who have eyes to see' there were plenty of between the lines reservations in the report from Officers and I have heard the Cabinet's decision described as 'ill-advised rather than illegal'.

All other business went through without any discussion apart from expressions of mutual admiration from  Cabinet members.

The Scrutiny recommendations on the controversial Sustainability and Transformation Plan (a cover for cuts or a brave new integrated world) were about process rather than content and were approved:
1. An update be provided to the committee on the OnePublic Estate, including an update on the Central Middlesex and Willesden Hubs.
2. Efforts be made to engage with health scrutiny across north-west London with regard to the Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
3. Consideration be given to collaborative work with Healthwatch groups to support engagement around the Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
4. A regular progress report on the Sustainability and Transformation Plan be provided to the committee, the first of these to be provided six months from the date of the current meeting.
There was no discussion on the One Public Estate Plan where the position of voluntary organisations being charged market rents for use of NHS Estate's property has caused much consternation in the sector. Muhammed Butt is also the Lead Member on this issue.

The Budget Task Group's recommendations would be 'taken into consideration' and Cllr Southwood promised dialogue but made no promise on the Task Group's opposition to bulk collection charges.

Cllr Mitchell-Murray, lead member for Children and Families sent her apologies to the meeting LINK. Muhammed Butt took over her role in December with the Council stating that she hoped to retrun in January 2017.

New lead member for Regeneration, Cllr Shama Tatler was present and seemed extremely happy to be at the top table but made only a very minor contribution. The demarcation between her role and that of Muhammed Butt, which led to the conflict between Butt and Cllr Mashari, still seems unclear.


Unknown said...

this is wrong

Philip Grant said...

The Executive (as it then was) also seemed "thrilled" by the development partnership deal in 2012 with Galliford Try, to redevelop the Willesden Green Library Centre and give Brent, "for free", a new Cultural Centre. They were so happy with the deal that they gave away 72% of the publicly owned site, and allowed Galliford Try to build 95 flats on it.

Brent then agreed to none of those flats being "affordable homes", and that it should be a gated private estate. Did anyone in Brent's Executive (Cabinet) or Regeneration Department realise that their trusted "development partner" was going to sell all the flats, "off-plan", to a Far Eastern property investor, to market for exorbitant prices?

Giving so much power to the Cabinet (and its Leader), rather than having committees where (at least in the past) backbench councillors with particular experience or interest in that subject area could look more closely at detailed proposals put to them by Council Officers, has proved to have significant risks and drawbacks.


A completely disgusted resident said...

The contempt for the electorate was also shown by the fact that each item had only 3 minutes spent on it.These were large and important matters which deserved proper discussion and analysis. Butt and McClellan have to go and this system of management has to go also.