Thursday, 28 September 2017

Now Duffy asks about missing councillor and 'jollies' from developers

This is part 2 of Cllr Duffy's correspondence with Cllr James Allie who will be chairing the Standards Committee tonight:


Dear James , 

Here is part two of my concerns please ensure the co-opted member are given a copy. Also if you are not the person or committee who deals with these issues please pass them on to the CEO with the questions as a FOI .

(A) Committee attendance 

James as a member of  the Labour group you are  probably aware that I have been left off committees for the past two years. You maybe also be aware that I won an election to be on scrutiny committee but was then removed and was not placed on any committee whatsoever this year. This is in-spite of the fact that attendance at committee meetings is very  low and the recommendation from the Penn report concerning the death of CIIr Oladapo (Tayo) said under 2.

What, if any, improvements the Council should implement"

(i)consideration should be given as to whether every member of the Council should sit on a sub- committee or committee as well as Full Council to improve the potential for attendance and thereby avoid the possibility of breaching the six months rule. This could also obviate the current practice of using the substitution arrangements to enable members to avoid breaching the six months rule". 

I know you have witnessed the exchange of emails between the Labour Party chief whip Cllr Kabir and myself about this issue of me being removed from all committees. Therefore you can imagine my surprise when just before full council meeting on  last Monday! Cllr  Kabir told me that she had put me on the Licensing committee replacing Cllr Sabina Khan , without asking my permission or my availability .I informed Cllr Kabir that I would not stand as I believe it was just cover-up to hide the fact Cllr Khan had moved out of Brent sometime previous  and she was not willing to attend any more meetings than the bare minimum. I also told Cllr Kabir I was not good enough  for the leadership to nominate me for any committee meetings in May,  therefore what had changed by September.

I was at the time and subsequently concerned that the Labour leadership are not being transparent to residents  that  I am being brought into a deception without my knowledge. Also in the Penn report it said "consideration should be given to the way in which ‘apologies for absence’ are managed. Currently there is no requirement for the member concerned to tender their apologies directly or personally as these can be tendered on their behalf by another member or an officer". 
I am concerned that the apologies are being managed by the Chief whip in a blanket fashion and do not relate absences due to illness or any other reason , just the unwillingness of Cllr Khan to travel to Brent.I  wonder if under standards you would be willing to start an investigation into 

(1) When did Cllr Khan Leave Brent?
(2) Was the CEO and the Head of Legal informed ?
(3) If not why not ?
(4) Did the CEO and HOL give any advice?

(B) Hospitality 

As you know there has been a  successful planning application for Tottenham Hotspurs to play at Wembley , many people suggested Tottenham got a good deal  and many local Cllrs objected to the conditions. I have been informed by  a member of the public  both the Leader of the council Cllr Butt and lead member for Regeneration and planning Cllr Tatler have received hospitality from Tottenham since the planning permission was granted. Whereas I have some understanding that we need to keep relations open with the Wembley and their tenant Tottenham,  However I  do not understand why the lead member for planning should participate in hospitality as this could seemingly bring  the planning system into disrepute , therefore I ask you to ensure both these councillors  and any others who have participated in Hospitality declare  the reasons why they were offered hospitality and did they check it with the CEO,before excepting also if you could enquire 

(1) How many tickets were received and value.
(2) Who attended the matches with them.
(3) Reason  for the hospitality ( sometimes its OK to look at an issue of say crowd control ,traffic management, or a new street cleansing practise. However  receiving hospitality should not just be for a "Jolly Boys outing@ for them and their family that is not acceptable)
(4) Can you also enquire whether any other Councillors , Officers or relative have received hospitally from Tottenham or Wembley stadium.

In my experience its best to keep clear of hospitality from developers as ' When you dance with a developer, its always to their tune". I hope you see that a declaration alone without reason is not enough, what we must consider is what the average man /women in the street would think, that is why I ask you to look at the issue.


26 comments:

  1. Ms Khan is apparently living in Southgate and has interests in a money transfer company, amongst other things.

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/04430567

    As does the person who seems to be her partner? But that isn't declared on Brent's website.

    https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/04430567/officers

    When you start digging through her register of interests, it does indeed get interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Can a byeelection be called if a Cllr no longer meets the eligibility criteria of either living or working the area they represent?

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    2. That eligibility criteria is for a would be candidate. Cllr Khan can cling on to her annual allowance by attending ONE meeting every six months to prevent triggering a by-election.

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    3. Yes, Anonymous 16:56, that's exactly what Cllr Khan has done.

      In the past six months she has failed to attend any of the four full Council meetings, but she did attend ONE Alcohol and Entertainment Licencing Committee meeting in August.

      This had a very short agenda, including approving the minutes of the previous meeting, which had lasted just seven minutes!

      Six months annual allowance = £5,000. Not a bad return for a few minutes work!!! Do our councillors have no shame???

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    4. Hang on, I just found this article whilst trying to do some research. Sabina Khan is walking and living in Tower Hamlets, where she is recruiting members from her customer base. KS Enterprise, her business, is located in the constituency. She is preparing to stand for the Poplar & Limehouse Parliamentary seat to replace Fitzpatrick who is retiring. A local member tells me that she is paying up for residents to join as membership in the wards where her business is located and that a selection process could be before next year Summer.

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  2. The "Register of Interests" for Cllr. Sabina Khan on Brent Council's website gives her address as: 1 The Mall, Southgate, N14 6LR

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    Replies
    1. ... and her "Attendance Record" on the website shows that since April she has only attended 1 out of 5 meetings she should have been at.

      I bet she is still drawing her £10k a year allowance!!! Value for money?

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  3. Don't things look interesting (in a very nasty way) once people start digging?
    Can it get much grubbier?

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  4. Well residents of Wembley, what say you.

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    Replies
    1. its the residents of Stonebridge, who "Cllr" Sabina Khan is supposed to be representing, who should be having the loudest say!!!

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    2. 09:42 - the one who seems to be doing the most down there is Zaffar, despite being dumped by Mo et al. Good for him.

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    3. Does Ernest Ezeajughi live in Brent as he works in Hertfordshire.

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    4. 18:05 - according to the Brent website, Ernest lives at:
      21 Chippenham Avenue, Wembley HA9 6NH

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    5. Perhaps Zaffir should consider stanging next election as an Independent candidate if Brent Labour Party have dumped him from their selected candidate list for the next election.

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  5. I recently added a "postscript" comment to a blog (several months ago) about the lack of transparency at Brent Council over events leading up to the FA / Tottenham Hotspur getting planning permission last March for crowds of up to 90,000 people at all of the Spurs games at Wembley Stadium.

    One of the points I highlighted was these entries from Cllr. Butt's "Register of Interests" on the Council's website:
    '22/04/17 - Arsenal v Manchester City ticket. Value unknown. Gift received from the Football Association.' and
    '22/04/17 - Chelsea v Tottenham ticket and hospitality. Value unknown. Gift receive from Tottenham Football Club.'
    So the Council Leader gets a ticket for both F.A. Cup semi-finals, plus "hospitality" from Spurs at their game.

    In the light of Cllr. Duffy's comment to the Chair of Standards Committee, that 'In my experience its best to keep clear of hospitality from developers as ' When you dance with a developer, its always to their tune", there is another entry on Cllr. Butt's "register" which raises concerns over its planning implications:

    '09/05/17 - Three course meal with developers from the construction industry. Estimated value between £30-40. Received from Terrapin Communications, London.'

    The Council Leader was entertained by a PR company representing one or more big property development companies. Who were those companies, what developments in Brent are they involved with, and what was the purpose of their PR company inviting Cllr. Butt to a restaurant meal?

    In the interests of transparency, Cllr. Butt should answer these questions publicly.

    Philip.

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    Replies
    1. Terrapin Communications is a PR firm, was this a deceptive way to avoid naming who the developers were? Any guesses?

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    2. The Grenfell Action group blog was charting the activities of Terrapin Communications as the Labour cabinet in Haringey were dining with them.
      The Ham & High reported that Labour Cllr Adam Jogee works as a consultant for Terrapin. https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/oh-what-a-tangled-web/

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    3. Further to my comment of 17:14 above, this is the text of an email I have just sent to the Council Leader:-

      Dear Councillor Butt,

      I note that your "Register of Interests" on the Brent Council website includes the following entry:

      '09/05/17 - Three course meal with developers from the construction industry. Estimated value between £30-40. Received from Terrapin Communications, London.'

      As a Brent resident, I am concerned about the implications of this example of hospitality you have received. I am therefore writing to ask you for some further information about this meal, paid for by a PR company which represents a number of property developers, as citizens of the borough need to understand the reasons for such hospitality. The information I would ask you to provide is:

      1) Who else from Brent Council (members or officers) attended that "Terrapin Communications" meal with you?

      2) Which companies were the 'developers from the construction industry' who were at that meal with you?

      3) What current or proposed developments in the London Borough of Brent are those companies (in question 2) involved with?

      4) What reason did Terrapin Communications give for inviting you to that meal?

      5) Were any past, present or proposed developments in Brent discussed at the meal, and if so, what developments or proposals?

      6) Were any of the matters discussed at the meal passed on afterwards to any other Brent Council member or officer, and if so, to whom were they passed?

      Because of the nature of the matters raised, I am copying this email to the Council's Chief Legal Officer. Please copy your reply to Ms Norman, so that she can monitor whether you are complying with the requirements of Brent's Members' Code of Conduct, including the requirement that 'you should be as open as possible about your actions ... and should be prepared to give reasons for those actions.'

      I look forward to receiving your full reply. Thank you. Best wishes,

      Philip Grant

      P.S. This email has been prompted by a recent article on the "Wembley Matters" website, which included the text of an email from a Labour councillor to the Chair of Brent's Standards Committee: [Link to this blog]

      I am copying this email to the councillors involved in that correspondence, and will add the text of this email, and your reply to it, as "comments" on that blog.

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    4. Anonymous above draws attention to Terrapin Communications.

      There website says 'We are the leading public affairs agency
      advising on property' and 'Terrapins are the masters of the art of self preservation. They know when to stick their heads out and when to keep them in their shells!'

      Why was Mo. Butt involved with such tricky creatures???

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    5. Wow! thats a very interesting article you gave a link to Anonymous 18:10.

      A report in the Ham&High in December 2016 revealed that Haringay Council Leader Clair Kober was taken out to dinner by Terrapin SIX times in two years, and her cabinets lead members for planning and finance five times and twice. The 13 meals are supposed to have cost Terrapin £770.

      Some Labour councillors called-in a Haringay cabinet decision (in favour of a selling a property to a developer, who had been a Terrapin client) for scrutiny in November 2016. They were sent a letter by Cllr. Jogee, the Labour chief whip (and employed by Terrapin as a consultant), who criticised them for "entirely unacceptable behaviour" and threatened them with disciplinary action.

      Oh-what-a-tangled-web indeed! Wake up Brent, we dont want our Council going the same way.

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  6. Further to my comments of 29 September (17:14 and 19:20) above, further research on Brent Council's website into councillors' entries on their "Register of Interests" has found that Cllr. Butt is not alone in declaring:
    '09/05/17 - Three course meal with developers from the construction industry. Estimated value between £30-40. Received from Terrapin Communications, London.'

    The same entry is found for:
    Cllr. Shama Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration etc.), along with an entry for 'Football tickets to Wembley. No value indicated.' (and no dates or other details provided).

    It will be interesting to find out why, and on behalf of which of their clients, Terrapin Communications invited Brent Council's Leader and its Lead Member for Regeneration to dinner.

    [And as for Wembley Stadium, it appears that around half of our councillors received at least two free tickets each from them to the Rihanna concert there in June 2016. That must have been quite a Council "Jolly"! I wonder what Wembley Stadium wanted in return?]

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  7. On the ticket thing. It is common practice for the FA to give away large numbers of tickets to all sorts of people, including councillors, schools and community groups. I've had a fair few, all of which went to residents.

    But yes, there are some things that are definitely a bit sus. I can't imagine why you'd get freebie Rihanna tickets, it was a sell out.

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  8. I believe a fair few got tickets for Adele too

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    Replies
    1. Interesting. I never ever got any non footie ones offered. The FA likes a full stadium,which is why they got given away. I can't imagine a pop promoter needing to do that.

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    2. 15:41 - too late, it went there a while back.

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  9. UPDATE:

    Further to my comment of 29 September at 19:20 above, I have received the information which I requested. This has been posted in a separate blog, on 5 October, headed:
    "Cllr. Butt and hospitality from a property PR company – the details."

    Philip.

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