Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Ignoring of the Five Thousand

The 'Gospel According to Brent Democratic Services' is a strange one. Keep Willesden Green are aggrieved at the lack of consultation and full public information on the Willesden Green regeneration proposals and want Brent Council to 'Stop, Listen and Reflect' before carrying on.  We claim that the Executive decision to approve the scheme without proper consultation was wrong.

Two petitions, one on retaining the Old Willesden Library and the other on allocating the Willesden Bookshop space in the proposed Cultural Centre have attracted 5710 and 1295 names respectively.  However because the Executive made the decision to go ahead with the scheme Democratic Services have rejected tabling the petitions at Full Council and may do the same for a request for them to go before the Executive.

In the Old Willesden Library case with more than 5,000 names Brent Council's guidelines are clear:
If a petition contains 5,000 or more signatures and is not a petition requesting officer evidence, it will, if requested by the petition organiser, be referred for debate by Full Council. The petition organiser will be informed of the date of the meeting, invited to attend and to take up to 5 minutes to present the petition. The petition will then be considered by councillors
At the next Full Council is not until May and is largely ceremonial with the induction of the new Mayor, and the planning application will be made before then, Democratic Services have said that both petitions should be taken into account by Andy Donald, Head of Regeneration and Major Projects, as part of the application process.  However Andy Donald is the instigator of the council-private partnership project, has defended it strongly at Executive and Scrutiny meetings, and will be making the planning application.

As far as the Planning Committee goes, despite its statutory independence, it will be Brent Council, via the Executive making an application to Brent councillors.  Labour councillors hold the majority of places on the planning committee.

The Council's stonewalling and avoidance of debate raises vital issues of democratic accountability and Keep Willesden Green will continue to press for a full debate of these issues.

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