Shortly after UEFA announced an investigation into Sunday's events at the Euro2020 match at Wembley, Brent Scrutiny Committee attempted to find out whether Brent Council was going to hold a review of its own responsibilities in the matter.
Brent Council is responsible for scrutinising all the public safety arrangements at the Stadium and for issuing the safety licence. The Council also chairs the Wembley Stadium Advisory Group.
Recording of yesterday's meeting
Committee Chair, Roxanne Mashari, had to repeatedly remind officers that the Committee had a right and a duty to scrutinise these issues in the light of the seriousness of what had taken place. Residents need to be reassured that concerns were addressed and that similar events would not happen again.
In response officers said it was too soon after the event to consider these issues and wanted to wait until Tuesday's meeting with partners in the SafetyAdvisory Group for information that would be forthcoming. The Advisory Group includes the Council, Police, Wembley Stadium and the Football Association. It was evident that Chris Bryant, representing the FA, had been taken by surprise by the UEFA announcement.
Chris Whyte for Brent Council outlined the Council's role and particularly the activities of the Council's two Public Safety Officers who were present before, during and after events to check arrangements both inside and outside the stadium. Such arrangements included how the checking of tickets at turnstiles was managed; management of licensed premises inside the stadium; management of the seating arrangements once the match started; crowd management outside the stadium including the enforcement of Public Space Prohibition Orders over illegal trading, advertising, ticket touting; and working with partners via the Stadium Control Room bringing any incidents to their attention. No councillor questioned whether two Public Safety Officers were sufficient for such a large stadium with 60,000 plus attending.
Whyte clarified it was only the Council's operation alplan that he was responsible for signing off, and not those covering policing and stewarding. The plan was forwarded to the CEO and Council Leader. The police and Wembley Stadium made their own risk assessments for specific events and subsequent deployment decisions.
Cllr Hassan wanted to know the terms of reference for any inquiry and what it would cover and whether the Council deployed different numbers for different events. Chris Whyte said it was too early to discuss terms of reference for an inquiry and the Council should wait for the meeting with other stakeholders. The level of resources that the Council had deployed recognised the importance of Euro2020 ands was well in excess of the number that would be deployed at a Spice Girls concert.
Cllr Mashari was frustrated at not being able to get a clear commitment to a public review by the Council itself and her suggestion that the Committee recommend that Tuesday's stakeholders meeting should be held in public was rejected. Cllr Janice Long suggested that this demand amounted to grandstanding and Mashari should not believe everything she read in the papers. Cllr Mashari said the allegation of grandstanding diminished the seriousness of the incident where people were injured and a tragedy could have happened.
Video Evidence in Tos Atkins' BBC Report HERE
After further discussion when most members agreed to wait for more information, the Committee agreed that information from the Safety Advisory Group, including the Minutes, should be brought to the next Scrutiny Committee meeting and made a recommendation that the Cabinet undertake a public review of lessons learnt from Sunday's incidents.
The leader of the Council, Muhammed Butt, was present latterly during the discussion but did not take part.
Another informative article worth reading revealing there were advance plans for fans to 'jib' into the stadium- points to a failure in pre-match intelligence: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/euro-2020-wembley-security-failings-b1884231.html
Cllr Janice Long is an astute judge of character.
I think there is a danger of dismissing concerns as being whipped up by newspapers. The social media videos are evidence and probably being reviewed by the police and others concerned currently. The account of one of the young Wembley Stadium workers on the Kilburn Times website is relevant.
You clearly have skin in the game, Labour have been a disaster for this borough and the sooner the majority of the borough's residents realise this the better. Cllr Long's attack on the Scrutiny chair was a personal attack which clearly detracted from the seriousness of the issues. I don't see why a decision for Brent to carry its own investigation, could not have been made then. It is probably because the Council wants political cover regarding its failures in oversight.
Cllr. Long was obviously unaware of what happened on Sunday. Or was she put up to her own Grandstanding and spreading false news.
Iterestingly, When Cllr Butt appeared on screen you could see him, at least one councillor and officers using their phones. You could almost recognise who was reading whose messages.
Let's face it, having seen the videos and read the reports in the media it is obvious that Sunday was a disgrace and was managed appallingly.
Here is just one: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-57829412
Thankfully, the storming of the stadium is the least of the concerns. It would have been plainly obvious to anyone who walked down a jam-packed Wembley (Olympic) Way in the late afternoon that it was dangerously close to being overcrowded. Councillors and officials can try and dismiss this as much as they want (and no doubt they will) but it was perilously close to being total mayhem. And that was only with 60,000 fans and a few thousand more without tickets.
What few open spaces remain in the area are hived off including Quintain-owned side streets and pocket squares. This is for good reason perhaps, given the antics of a minority of the fans - but the amount of available floor space for them to gather is simply too low.
If capacity was at the full 90,000 there could have been dangerous and deadly consequences. This is only going to worsen with the planned development in the current Yellow Car Park (used a fanzone for NFL) and what little space remains on Olympic Way by the Civic Centre. These areas, including the large open park will no doubt will be completely blocked off during events, further worsening the crowding.
And on the subject of the carpark, I'm amazed that Quintain have been allowed to provide such a lack of security that VIPs are openly mugged even when its busy. What a great advert to deter people from using unofficial car parks and renting driveways.
Questions should also be raised about how the shiny, publicly-funded steps may have contributed to crowd control issues - at least previously the ramps provided "choke points" to gain entry to level one of the stadium. A wide open staircase has proved difficult to defend against.
Brent Council have been complicit in allowing these developements to simply be taken too far and any deadly consequences in future will be their responsiblity. If they have dreams of Wembley once again hosting a major event then they need to walk back and rethink some of the remaining permitted developments, including the spaces opposite the LDO, the area next to their Civic Centre and the Yellow Car Park. These should be soft spaces for local residents to use on a daily basis, with support for fan gatherings on event days.
You can see why the FA raised such objections at the outset of Quintain's Masterplan submission (and they weren't too happy with the steps either if I recall). I've largely been in favour of the general development in the Wembey area but it's a sad state of affairs when if England were to reach the final of World Cup 2030 hosted at Wembley, the area will simply not be able to handle such an occasion safely.
Hiya Martin - are u able to set out what Brents role or powers are here, please? Feels a bit like they trying to insert itself in to the issue.. Or are they actually in charge of these big events?
Well put and I ageee
Chris Whyte said that Brent had operational responsibilities across events and mentioned:litter nefore, during and after; parking enforcement on event days; Public Safety Officers (2) present to check arrangements inside and outside the stadium; work with partners in Stadium Control Room re traffic management (ad hoc decisions on opening and closing roads); upholding Public Space Prohibition Orders re litter, urination, ticket touts. Licensing team wotk with local shops selling alcohol re policy, countering illegal trading, advertising in the vicinity. Public Health ensure Covid controls are being enforced, particularly as attendance increased. Town Centre Management working with local businesses. Overall make sure no negative impact on residents. Answering questions said 2 Public Safey Officers present from early in the day, bewfore gamne they inform other teams (presumably police, stadium) of any interventions needed. Particularly interested in outer security perimeter checks, ensure proces sof going through turnstiles working efficiently. Inside stadium crowd management, franchises monitoringm ensure crowd is settled and manage when game starts looking out for persistent standing, drunkeness etc. After game ensure flow out of the stadium is carried out safely, meet with police at half-time. Stay on after game until Wembley Park area has emptied.
From press accounts and social media footage of these responsibilities the managemnt of the perimeter security, efficient working of the turnstiles, and public health checks re covid are all very relevant.
There don't seem to be very many people in the team briefing photo?
After the horrors of the Manchester Arena bombing, and all that we heard recently from the inquest into that terrible event, you'd have expected very stringent security at this high profile Euro 2020 Cup Final, especially as members of the Royal Family would be attending.
Sadly it seems Brent Council spent more time swooning over the new vanity steps outside the stadium (which cost us residents £17.8 million in NCIL money) than they did on making proper plans for this once in 55 years event.
Did these bottleneck new steps add to the issues, would the old ramps have been better for security or crowd management?
Why allow local shops to sell any alcohol? The thugs were buying a full case of beer each.
Why not provide more toilets? It was disgusting to see a wall of guys urinating along Olympic Way.
Why kettle fans on Olympic Way I thought, but then where else could they go? All these tower blocks built around our showpiece national stadium mean that everyone is channelled down these narrow routes? None of the other European stadiuns we saw on TV were crowded by flats like this, there was open space around them and they were being celebrated as great sporting venues.
Clearly none of the thugs who managed to break into the stadium without tickets were searched, they could have been carrying knives or explosives, as indeed could anyone milling around outside the stadium for hours - a terrorists dream.
At the Sarah Everard vigil the police used heavy handed tactics against women who had gone to pay their respects to a young woman abducted and murdered by a police officer - at Wembley drunken thugs were allowed to completely ruin what should have been a joyous occasion.
Instead of this being a celebration of European football it's turned into a national disgrace.
Why were Carolyn Downs and Alan Lunt not at this scrutiny meeting? Why did Cllr Butt arrive late?
Alan Lunt was there but Chris Whyte took most of the detailed questions. I could not see everyone who was there on the webcast. Some voices were disembodied.
There has been a lot of investment in Counter Hostile Vehicle measures (those concrete slabs covered in artifical grass) following the incidents in Central London of cars driving into pedestrians. I presume those are for normal daily use rather than event days when many of the roads are closed.
This is an extract from the commentary on the Crowd Control Report which went before the Planning Committee when the steps were approved:
The report demonstrates that all current access is maintained and ease of movement at ground level (Level B2) is improved. The Olympic Steps work safely and efficiently for access, egress and evacuation from the Stadium. The assessments undertaken have shown that there is the capability to maintain the overall capacity of the system during ingress, egress and evacuation even with the reduction in the number of available channels at the stairs and head of stair barriers from 16 to 12, or an operational scenario where the Spanish Steps and Ginnels are unavailable. This is considered to be acceptable, and appropriate in the context of the application currently under consideration.
The proposed Olympic Steps would provide more resilience than the existing arrangement where it may be necessary to close all or part of the ramps to manage a situation where this is necessary, for example crowd separation or crowd control. There are also potential operational benefits in terms of ease of access and ability to segregate the incident from the remaining and/or other crowds. In summary, the replacement steps have been designed to maximise the safety of users of the staircase and is best suited to accommodate the arrival and departure of high pedestrian flows on event days.
What is pertinent to this enquiry is are they asking the right questions?
At big events like this UEFA pay to hire the Stadium, effectively taking full responsibility for hosting the event and that it entails, i.e security, hospitality etc. So let's ask the questions....
How much did UEFA pay? What was the cost? Was it adequate?
How much was spent? and on what on? i.e In house Security and the Police etc.
Who carried out the Risk Assessments?
What was identified as of major concern?
If anything answers will show clearly why this was such a fiasco.
Over development of the site by Quintain only added to it. The lack of space was obvious for the amount of people kettled in to such a small area.
When Wembley Stadium hosted the Olympics in 2012, the Army was brought in to Police all the barriers etc as to mitigate a Terror attack. Perhaps we should be employing them at major events such as this, as I am sure they would make a much better job of it.
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