Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Brent Council deprives local primary schools of much needed extra funding

The Kilburn Times LINK reports that Oakington Manor Primary School has lost the High Court case brought by Brent Council against the school.  The school had earlier won a Planning Inspectorate appeal against the Council's order to stop letting the school playground out for car parking on Wembley Event Days. The Council decided to invest its (our) funds in taking the case to the High Court  The revenue was used to supplement provision for pupils.

Oakington Manor is now a Multi-Academy Trust with Furness Primary and receives its funds directly from the government rather than via Brent Council.  It does however suffer the same funding deficit experienced by all state funded schools.

Declaring an interest as Chair of Governors at Chalkhill Primary School in Wembley I can also reveal that Brent Council took similar action against us and despite our receiving support from local councillors and Barry Gardiner MP, Brent Council Planning Enforcement took action against us. Local primary schools are in effect also part of Brent Council and so we had one part of Brent Council taking legal action against another part of Brent Council - an action that would deprive the school of additional income at a time of budget cuts and increased costs arising from higher pension and national insurance payments.

Chalkhill lost its case with the Planning Inspectorate and decided not to take any further action because of the legal costs involved.

Ostensibly, the Council's case is based on the need to reduce car use and subsequent pollution and traffic congestion in the area. Readers may think it might be more to do with maintaining its own and partners income stream from parking charges.

Not far from Chalkhill and Oakington Manor, the fee-paying Lycee International at the old Brent Town Hall, is letting its car park on Wembley Event Days. Brent Council argue that this is over-spill from official car parking near the stadium which has been reduced temporarily by the building works in the vicinity.


Jaine Lunn said...

I suspect the Lycee International are the freeholders of the land, and therefore the Council are powerless to do anything about it.

Martin Francis said...

Brent's claim is that the schools changed their use from an educational establishment to 'mixed use': education and parking facility - without planning permission. The Lycee and Patidar Centre (Forty Lane) were approached by the people who run the stadium car parks to provide space for that lost by building development on a temporary basis, with the agreement of the council...

Anonymous said...

do schools that hire out their car parks or playing fields for car boot sales etc have to apply for change of use? Brent Councils action seems OTT

Martin Francis said...

I am not sure. Brent's case apart from infringement of planning regulations was that such lets undermine policy to make Wembley a mainly public transport destination. A laudable aim to cut down congestion and pollution but doesn't really persuade when they are building additional parking around the stadium and LDO. If we had been able to demonstrate that our car park had been in continuous use for that purpose for 10 years or more we would have qualified under the 10 year rule for exemption from enforcement. Brent Planning moved in on schools just before the 10th anniversary of the new stadium opening so that we would not be able to claim under the 10 year rule. I objected that 'mixed use' hardly applied in terms of equal education/parking use of the school site. The number of lets went up temporarily when Spurs came to Wembley but normally it is the occasional weekend or evening let for event day parking. It contrasts with the Council's emphasis on raising its own revenue by selling advertising space on its building, renting out two floors of the Civic Centre etc.