Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Cllr Abdi's removal from Planning Committee raises possibility of political interference in the planning process

Planning Committees have a quasi-judicial role and are supposed to be free from interference from the political leadership of the Council once appointed and going about their job.

Questions have been raised a number of times about possible attempts to pressure members of the Committee to make decisions favoured by the political leadership but none so far has 'stuck'.

Events yesterday, when it became know during the afternoon that the leadership was seeking to remove Cllr Abdirazak Abdi from the Committee through an item on the Full Council Agenda, dismayed many in the Labour Party, not least members of the Kilburn Labour Party (Brent) and resulted in the letter from their officers published on this blog.

The Labour Group's pre-meeting before Full Council was very short so it is unlikely that the issue was properly debated there.

The item was brought forward on the agenda and discussed before some councillors had arrived at the meeting, including I understand Cllr Abdi's two ward councillor colleagues.  At the same time the live streaming of the meeting was unavailable and it is only now that I have been able to watch a recording of the item. (HERE watch from 15.00)
 
The changes were approved without a vote but then Cllr Abdi asked if he could read an email he had sent to Labour colleagues about the matter. After some discussion between the Mayor and senior officers (off-microphone but those with sharp hearing may be able to make it out) he was told he couldn't read out  the email but he was offered the chance to speak.

Cllr Abdi said:
I would just like to raise my concern because I am being removed from the Planning Committee and I believe I am being removed for the simple reason of voting against planning applications and I feel this is a detrimental decision to the residents of the great borough. I've only been on the Committee for two sessions and I feel that I've voted against sufficient applications that the leadership... (tape becomes inaudible at this point to me but you may be able to understand what is said - if you can please add as a comment below).
If Cllr Abdi has been removed because of the way he voted I would suggest that this does amount to political interference in the process - not just in Abdi's case but additionally in the form of a warning to other members of the committee that if they don't 'toe the line' they will also be removed.

Planning Committee members cannot be whipped but if the Leader informally makes his  views known and councillors know of the possible consequences of not voting the right way, then the public's confidence that Brent planning decisions are fair and transparent is undermined.

3 comments:

  1. Who will be first to report this to the Local Government Ombudsman?

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  2. We all know and have known for years that the Planning Committee in Bent is corrupt, but this is the first time a Councillor has had the balls to admit it. Well done Cllr Abdi

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  3. Brent Councillors, particularly those on the Planning Committee and specifically the Chair of said Committee should be aware that their removal "ex officio" of Cllr. Abdi has been noted outside the Borough and is a cause for concern.

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