If you'd had a fit of sneezing at the Brent Cabinet meeting yesterday you would have missed the decision to go ahead with the £17.8m public realm improvement to Olympic Way using Community Infrastructure Levy monies.
The officers' report included the phrase 'Re-examine the funding decision for Olympic Way improvements.' There was no re-examination in the meeting just a reiteration of the report's recommendations in the event of new stadium owenership and a 2 minute address by backbencher Cllr Shafique Choudhary (Labour, Barnhill) who asked why the Council had to spend the money to the benefit of Quintain and not to the that of the majority of Brent residents.
It is hard to believe that he was the only one of Brent's 57 Labour councillor with doubts about the scheme and willing to represent residents who would rather have the money spend on much needed improvements to Brent's deteriorating roads and pavements
Cllr Tatler, Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning, (Labour, Fryent) said that the scheme was not just about the replacement for the pedway but for the whole walkway from Wembley Park station and that the business plan involved would involve Brent Council benefiting from a share of the net income generated by the scheme.
The contribution is contingent on:
Quintain not pursuing development of the site next to the Civic Centre to the extent previously given outline permission by the council. Instead the council want Quintain to help 'deliver a development that better complements the role and setting of the Civic Centre, in particular creating a significant new square outside the Civic Centre Library.'Rather than coming back to Cabinet a decision on the adequacy of the level of funding from the Wembley Stadium owner was delegated to the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment in consultation with the Cllr Tatler. It is significant that despite this attempt to secure funding the report notes that 'it is confirmed the total contribution to Olympic Way improvements will be up to £17.8m. Caolyn Downs, Brent CEO, confirmed that this amount was inclusive of VAT.
A business plan between Quintain and the council (as above) for future sharing and reinvestment of the net income generation through 'assets' on Olympic Way.
Securing up to one third funding ccontribution from the Wembley Stadium owners.
The whole cabinet meeting, including other decisions on appointments to committees, NNDR rate relief, introduction of a flexible car club to Brent (cars can be left anywhere rather than designated spaces) and a contract for children's mental health services, took only 20 minutes in total.
It seems clear that the new cabinet will have even more of a role rubber stamping decisions made elsewhere than even the previous ones. The holding of the meeting at 4pm on a Monday afternoon reduced the possibility of any significant public attendance.
The decisions notice for the meeting is HERE
The landslide local council election victory has clearly given the cabinet, to paraphrase the slogan on the stadium above, the go ahead to 'dare to do', whatever residents may think.
On a related matter I have been in correspondence with Cllr Tatler about Neighbourhood CIL, monies that community groups can apply for to improve their area. A consultation about CIL ends tomorrow and I have been pressing the council for details of the schemes that were awarded grants in Round 2 of applications. A process that has been completed but the results not published. The reason given for the delay is that the final agreement for one project has still to be drawn up:
From Cllr Tatler:
I replied:The survey went out on 9 May. The survey will close on 23 May.
The list of round 2 projects shouldn't really have any bearing on the survey (round one is currently available on the web) - we ask if the priorities are correct, feedback on the application process, feedback on the criteria etc vs have we funded the right projects.In any case, the list of projects should be published now. We were waiting on one organisation to complete the legal paperwork.
Cllr Tatler asked me to let her know if there are any groups that need extra time.Thanks for your response. I think the Round 2 list is pertinent to the survey. As you say yourself 'feedback on the criteria etc have we funded the right projects.’ To see whether the right projects have been funded we need to know what projects have been funded and whether Round 1 is representative of future funding. Round 2 would provide that evidence.I have checked the CIL website and Round 2 has not yet been published.
I am concerned that the Round 1 list of projects funded include many that are really internal applications from Brent Council or semi-independent bodies partly funded by the council or working in close partnership with them, rather than autoomous communoty groups. See the list HERE