Wednesday, 26 May 2021

LATEST: Bobby Moore Bridge “footballers” mural - We have a dispute. We have a way to resolve it. Let's get on and do that!


The east wall of the subway, with “footballers” mural, from Quintain’s consent application 19/1474


In a guest post last Sunday, updated with a response from Brent’s Chief Executive, Philip Grant explained how the long-running dispute, over whether this iconic heritage mural could be covered-up with adverts during the Euros football tournament, could be settled with arbitration by a small panel of Brent councillors. This afternoon, he responded to the Council Officers who had dismissed his suggestion:-


This is an open email


Dear Ms Downs (and Ms Norman),

Councillors could resolve advertisement consent dispute


When I sent an initial response to your email of 24 May on Monday afternoon, I asked for early clarification on two points from your final sentence. I had hoped that the answers might mean that these was less urgency to get this outstanding matter settled.


As I have not yet received your reply to that, I am responding now to the main points in that email, as we do need to resolve our dispute without further delay.


In your email you wrote (although I realise this may have been drafted for you):


I am afraid that even if a panel of Councillors agreed with you it would not change the legal right for vinyl advertisements to be attached to the tiles over the football mural.


That statement is grossly misleading, and if that is what Cllr. Nerva and other elected representatives have been told by Council Officers, I believe you owe them an apology.


You may believe that a ‘legal right’ exists to cover the footballers mural with adverts, but I believe at least as strongly that no such ‘legal right’ exists. That is the point at issue which needs to be properly decided in order to resolve our dispute. 


I have set out a strong case, supported by evidence from the advertisement consent application documents, to show that there has been no consent to advertise over that mural since August 2019.


I am not so arrogant as to believe that I may not be mistaken, and have said that if your case is stronger than mine, I would accept that my view is wrong. 


You, and Ms Norman, have claimed that a consent given in 2017 still exists in respect of the footballers mural, but have refused to provide the detailed reasons and evidence to support that view.


We appear to have reached an impasse. The quickest and fairest way to settle the matter would be for both sides to submit their case for arbitration by an impartial person. The dispute would be decided on the facts and evidence, with both parties agreeing to accept the decision.


Your statement quoted above claimed that a panel of Councillors would have no authority to decide this matter. I disagree. 


This dispute is very much a Brent Council matter, with Brent officers on one side and a Brent citizen on the other side.


Brent, as Local Planning Authority, has granted two advertisement consents relating to the footballers tile mural, one in 2017 (ref. 13/2987) and one in 2019 (ref. 19/1474). It is accepted that they are both legally valid consents. It is simply a question of which one actually applies to the footballers mural now.


Both for Brent’s Bobby Moore Bridge advertising lease tenant, and for Brent’s Planning Enforcement team, it is important that there is certainty over whether or not there is advertisement consent in respect of the footballers mural.


I am sure that a small panel of experienced Brent councillors would be competent to consider and decide on the issue here, and I am willing to trust their impartiality in exercising that task. I hope you would also put your trust in such a panel, and agree to accept their judgement, based on the facts and evidence put to them.


Your email suggested that a decision by such a panel would carry no legal weight, and could be ignored. While it would not be an official legal tribunal, a Brent dispute, arbitrated fairly and openly by elected Brent councillors, with the agreement of both Brent parties to that dispute, is not something which any Court of Law would readily dismiss (in the unlikely event of it ever coming before one).


Your reluctance, so far, to countenance my suggestion for arbitration, in order to settle this matter quickly and without much further cost, could be seen (and is seen by some) as an admission that Brent’s Legal team are afraid to put their view over advertisement consent to the test. 


It’s time to show the citizens of our borough that we are not afraid to “put our cards on the table”, openly and transparently, and accept the outcome.


We have a dispute. We have a way to resolve it. Let's get on and do that!


Yours sincerely,


Philip Grant.


Philip Grant said...

One week on from my "open email", and not a word in response from Brent's Chief Executive, or from anyone else at the Civic Centre on her behalf!

Philip Grant said...

I have now received a response to my "open email", sent on behalf of Ms Downs.

If you are interested, watch out for further details early next week!