|Kilburn Times front page last week
I’m sure you’ve already seen Debra Norman’s response to Phillip Grant. Please find a copy attached, just in case.
As suggested therein, if you have a complaint you should contact the borough’s chief legal officer immediately. If that is not the case then I’ll kindly ask for confirmation at your earliest convenience that you do not in fact endorse these baseless accusations. Until then, answers to your questions are as follows:
1. What was the purpose of these three meetings,and in broad terms what was discussed?
• An error was made in responding to the FOI on which your questions are based. The meetings to which you refer occurred at least a year earlier than reported. Clarification and an apology is in the process of being issued. Nevertheless, those meetings were to discuss much needed inward investment and the building of essential new homes.2. Why were no minutes of these meetings taken - so as to follow LGA guidance?
• I have attached the relevant information so you can read for yourself what is recommended for which type of meeting.
3.What meetings have you held with other developers in Brent -particularly Quintain- since 2014?
• With regard to Quintain, we meet and correspond at a range of levels on a number of issues on a regular basis. More generally, I along with officers, meet and communicate with numerous active and potential developers on a regular basis regarding, as above, inward investment and the building of new homes.
4. Please confirm , for the record, that you have not attempted to influence the votes of any member of the planning committee ?
• Whether as a member of cabinet, or as a local councillor, joint working, both formal and informal, and dialogue with members of the planning committee is recognised as a legitimate reality of local government life. For the avoidance of doubt I can confirm that I have done just that as both leader of the council and ward councillor.
With regard to the final question, are you suggesting that it’s not a part of our role to comment on, support, or oppose relevant applications? Either way, are you saying that you’ve never sought to influence a planning decision?
I have also asked Debra Norman the chief legal officer to make some additions to the planning code of practice to reflect current guidance and practice in respect of s not on the planning committee which will help clear up any confusion , a copy of which is attached.
Muhammed ButtFormer Liberal Democrat and Brent Council leader Paul Lorber has also waded into the issue in a letter sent to Carolyn Downs, Brent Council Chief Executive:
Dear Ms Downs
I am extremely concerned at the front page story about the unminuted Meetings between the Leader of a Brent Council and a large developer who was in the process of having their Planning application considered.
Were you aware of these meetings, did you attend and did you authorise them?
You will be aware that the Alperton Masterplan was subject to public consultation, including with residents, and that the height of the buildings in the area were restricted "to up to 17 storeys".
When did the Council change the Masterplan or its policies to breach this commitment to local people and allow buildings of 26 storeys?
What exactly was the purpose of the meetings with the developer, who initiated them and was the height of the buildings they propose and any financial contributions discussed?
You will be aware that Brent Council subscribes to Open Government and that involvement of the Leader of the Council with Developers at a time when their Planning application, in breach of the Masterplan height limits, is being considered is of justified public interest.
What discussions about this Developers Plans took place in the regular Leadership/Officer meetings and how did any of these influence the planning process? Did any officers from Planning or any Councillors on the Planning Committee attend any of these meetings?
Please set out the protocol dealing with the issue of the Leader or any Councillors meeting Developers at a time when their major Planning applications are under consideration.
There is now a new Planning application for a 28 storey building on the site of the Boat pub in Bridgewater Road/Ealing Road. Can you advise what meetings involving Councillors or Officers took place discussing a proposal over 50% taller than the 17 storey Alperton Master Plan limit?
I would appreciate a full and early reply hopefully without the need to invoke a Freedom of Information.