Thursday 23 March 2017

Wembley Stadium 'Goliath' wins against local residents

Rob Davies did not receive notification that his request had been granted. The Chair refused a substitute from the same residents' association

Despite some excellent well-researched speeches by supporters of local umbrella group 'Wembley Champions', Barn Hill Residents' Association and Wembley High Road Traders' Association,  Brent Planning Committee tonight approved Wembley Stadium/Spurs planning application for 22 additional full capacity (91,000)  events per year with only one councillor voting against.

Earlier it had looked more evenly balanced when councillors asked some searching questions about the application and mitigation measures with Wembley Stadium often floundering in response. Councillors appeared to be very  doubtful of the benefits for local people and concerned about a capacity increase of some 60,000 spectators and the subsequent impact on traffic, train and bus over-crowding, littering and anti-social behaviour.

However after another confusion over whether the Committee could defer the decision, with the wrong legal advice being given at first to say they couldn't, there was a short break.  After the break they were informed that they could defer after all (this after a member of the public showed them a copy  of the law), but no councillor moved a motion to do so and a straight vote was taken  for or against the officer's  recommendation of approval.

Cllrs J Mitchell-Murray, Moher, Maurice, Long, Kabir and Agha all voted for the increase in the number of events and increased capacity despite all their early scepticism. Outgoing Kilburn councillor Cllr Pitruzzella, who had asked some challenging questions of the stadium team, was the only one to vote against. She will be a great loss to honest Brent politics.

Unusually written statements were read out from Cllr Muhammed Butt (he'd decided not to attend the meeting) and Cllr Ketan Sheth. Butt claimed that on balance the application would be good for local people.

Usually when non-committee councillors make representations, as was the case with Cllr Stopp and Cllr Choudhary, they are asked to declare any interest and reveal any approaches that have been made to them - this was not the case with the written statements.


Anonymous said...

Cllr Maurice who was elected as Conservative is now also part of extended Brent Labour. Thank god he has been deselected by the Conservative Party Central office. Source

Sandro said...

So that's it then....the precedent of allowing 'home games' at the full 91,000 capacity has been set. Let's all prepare for four years of hell, one from THFC & three years courtesy of Chelsea FC. Nice to hear that Butt chickened out of turning up & thanks to all the Cllr's who will make most of our weekends & some week days an awful experience in the very near future!

Philip Grant said...

It is sickening that, this morning, Brent Council's website has a banner headline celebrating Spurs being given full capacity use of Wembley Stadium, linked to a Council press release about the Planning Committee decision which does not mention the objections made by local residents and businesses:

Remind me, please, who is our local Council meant to serve?


Anonymous said...

In Butt's world it is just Butt and his cronies.

Philip Grant said...


... and then, to add insult to injury, at 1pm today the Council emailed me "Spurs are on their way to Wembley!", a copy of the latest "Your Brent" digital news-sheet, with the same banner headline celebrating the Planning Committee decision.

But this is a very distorted news report, because it makes no mention of the very valid objections put forward to the committee, by local people and some councillors on behalf of their residents.

It is as if the Council's press release reporting the decision was prepared before the Planning Committee meeting took place, which it probably was!


Philip Grant said...

It is odd that Cllr. Butt's written statement, in support of the application by Wembley Stadium, was read out to the Planning Committee meeting without any "declaration of interest".

The register of Cllr. Butt's interests, on the Brent Council website (see bottom of the page for Cllr. Muhammed Butt in the Elected Representatives section) includes the following items:

17-11-15 England v France tickets (x2) on 17-11-15. No face value. Gifted by Melvin Benn, Chairman, Wembley Stadium.

Tickets for Rihanna concert on 24-06-16 from Wembley Stadium. No face value.

Tickets to The Wembley Cup (charity event), Wembley Stadium, Fri 2 Sept 2016. No value specified. Gift received from Wembley Stadium.

Do I need to comment further?


Wembley Champions said...

We're in Extra Time it seems...Spurs undecided. FA giving them til April to decide.

Anonymous said...

You can be sure it was purposely that Butt went for the submitting a written report and not appearing at the meeting and giving an oral one. He could too easily been put in a difficult position. He has no decency whatsoever. It is just such a shame that he just wriggled throughout in last year's leadership challenge.
I'm sure Philip that you were right in your gut feeling that the press release had all been prepared beforehand. I'm sure that Butt had such belief that the Planning Meeting was just irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if these freebies are treated as benefits in kind by the Inland Revenue? Furthermore, when Butt is in receipt of these "gifts" (you could say enticements), at what point does conflict of interest come into play? As we have all found to our cost, every major proposed development in Brent is already a done deal before it even gets to Planning. Councillors go through the motions of asking searching questions and appear unconvinced by the answers given but then revert to kind and vote in favour. What a farce.

Anonymous said...

Although I wasn't able to be there at the meeting from what I have heard I would think that the meeting must have been somewhat of an eye opener for any Spurs representative attending this meeting. I would think that they are now feeling somewhat wary of the whole situation.

Wembley Champions said...

Yes Philip, please include the full list of register of interests in detail. This ought to have been declared at committee on Thursday as far as we understand.

Wembley Champions said...

17/0368 is a planning application. The Planning Committee can not be whipped or leaned on by any political party. Planning Committee members are supposed to make their decisions independent of political party politics using material planning considerations.

Philip Grant said...

Dear Wembley Champions (25 March at 06:51),

Cllr. Butt's "Register of Interests" declaration is publicly available on the Council's website at:

However, I think you are right to say that this ought to have been declared to Planning Committee, as part of submitting his views on the Wembley Stadium application.

I also note, from the online Register of Interests under her name, that Cllr. Sandra Kabir has shown:

'Three tickets for football match England v Netherlands at Wembley Stadium, Nil face value,
From the Council, 29 March 2016.

Two tickets for Rihanna Concert 24th June 2016. Nil value declared.

Three tickets to the Wembley Cup 2016 event received from Wembley stadium on 1st September 2016. Nil value declared.'

Did she declare these on Thursday evening, as a member of Planning Committee, at the start of the meeting considering an application from Wembley Stadium?

The same could be asked of Cllr. Maurice, whose entry in the register includes:

'Two tickets to Rihanna concert at Wembley Stadium on 24 June 2016. Gift from Wembley Stadium ltd.'


Anonymous said...

In another borough (Islington) I was recently prospectively 'offered' a flat in what was described on paper as 'a quiet street'. The postcode in question was N7 6DR. Click on the postcode map link for N7 6DR and guess what 'elephant outside the room' I could spot out of a second floor window with regard to the landlord's 'quiet street' claim.

Fortunately for me, I was in the position of being able to say, 'no' to that offer as I am not currently obliged to leave the one property my landlord has in a 'desirable area' of LB Camden that they want to sell.

Sadly, not everyone has such a luxury of choice. And perhaps the prospective residents of Quintain properties around Wembley Park are so affluent that they are more likely to have the choice of when to be absent?

Alison Hopkins said...

They weren't treated as benefits in kind when I was a councillor as the tickets had a nil face value. My allocations all got given away to locals, anyhow.

I agree they ought to have been declared.

Philip Grant said...

... and another thing:-

Rihanna concert tickets, 'no face value' or 'nil value declared'?

I haven't been to a "big name" concert at the "new" Wembley Stadium, but I believe that the price to the public from the Stadium's online ticket office is at least between £40 and £120 per ticket.

The Wembley Stadium website certainly gives the impression that Rihanna's concert on 24 June 2016 was far from a non-event:-

'Wembley Stadium welcomed Rihanna and her Anti World Tour to the national stadium on a wonderfully mild summer’s night.

The multi-platinum selling artist, who was supported by DJ Mustard and Big Sean, brought her usual swag and bad girl attitude to the stage and boy did the crowd lap it up.'

'Wembley's arch lit up a brilliant white to match the numerous torches being shone in the crowd as Rihanna performed her amazing hit 'Diamonds'.

As Rihanna brought her set to a close, she waved goodbye to her adoring fans who simply did not want the night to end. Rihanna gave the fans what they wanted, classy performances of her hits mixed with a bit and attitude and also some moments of love and affection.

This was a performance fitting of Wembley's amazing summer of headline concerts so far.'

(Read more at )

Anonymous said...

Almost worth it for the mental image of bad- ass Butt shining 'one of the numerous torches' and wiggling his booty in the summer evening air.

Don't have nightmares now .......

Mike Hine

Anonymous said...

Thank you Alison and Philip for your replies to my question re benefits in kind. "Gifts" received in the course of someones employment can as you know lead to complications. A bottle of wine from a business associate at Christmas is generally acceptable but a case of vintage wine every month would be something to avoid like the plague. Both could attract accusations of conflict of interest but the latter example would definitely be so if it came from a source who was looking to benefit in some way. As many other contributors to this blog have expressed, someone in a position with the power to give approval or veto an application should not under any circumstances accept favours or gifts from applicants but even if they did decide to take this risk, a full disclosure should be made of all gifts and interests. To actively take part in any rulings on an application and not declare an interest is plain corruption. There is definitely a very unhealthy association between Councillor Butt and his "team" and the FA at Wembley and also Quintain. An independent inquiry into all of these dealings is definitely overdue. Sorry for restating views that others have already expressed.

Alison Hopkins said...

I never had concert tickets, so I can't speak for those. Wemblet Stadium seems to always have vast quantities of tickets which they hold back and then offer to councillors - and I think, possibly staff, but I'm can't be sure of that. The idea I think was to ensure the stadium always looked full. Every ticket I ever had was printed with a zero value complimentary indication.

I think the rules say over £25, but I'd have to check.