PLANNING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN DEFENDS DECISION ON AUCKLAND RISE SPEAKERS – Steve Reed and Steve O’Connell prohibited from voicing their views on controversial proposals
The chairman of Croydon council’s planning committee has defended his decision not to allow Steve Reed or GLA member Steve O’Connell the opportunity to speak at the meeting which gave the go-ahead to allow controversial blocks of flats to be built on the Auckland Rise estate.
Cllr Paul Scott told News From Crystal Palace: “The rules on who can speak at the planning committee are set out in the council’s constitution.
“MPs are allowed to speak when they have raised concerns about an application during the formal consultation period.
“Mr Reed raised no concerns at that time. “He only wrote to the council less than 48 hours before the meeting, raising issues that had already been considered or that were not matters that planning deals with or can take into consideration. “Hence he would not have been eligible to speak – even MPs have to follow the rules!
“Following the dissolution of parliament he was no longer an MP. “He could have spoken as a member of the public but did not register to do so. A local person spoke instead.
“There are also strict rules around candidates in elections being allowed to use council meetings in a way which might be perceived as promoting themselves.
“For these clear reasons Mr Reed was not able to speak at the meeting.
“The GLA member (Steve O’Connell) also has to follow the council’s rules. “They are only allowed to speak at the planning committee on very large planning applications that the Mayor for London can have the final say on. “That was not the case here. “The Brick by Brick applications are separate planning applications.
“As the chair of the planning committee I can vary the rules on speaking at the committee, but I cannot ignore the rules laid down by the council unless there are special circumstances, which there were not in this case.
“It has been argued that the Brick by Brick schemes are going to create ghettos – very emotive language.
“In reality they are proposing a series of modest sized developments in already developed areas including council estates and on empty sites across Croydon. “In so doing it is maximising the number of affordable homes that can be built, funded by the sale of the other properties.
The small scale of the individual sites will have little impact on the Mayor’s transport strategy, especially when you consider that the previous Mayor set Croydon the target of allowing the building of a minimum of over 14,300 new homes over the next 10 years.”
Cllr Scott was responding to criticisms voiced by a campaigner against the Auckland Rise proposals whose views were put to him by News From Crystal Palace.
“Paul Scott wouldn’t allow Steve Reed to speak he said because of election purdha. He could have used discretionary powers to allow because of exceptional circumstance of the snap general election” said the campaigner.
“There was a political balance as we had Steve O’Connell (who is also a Conservative councillor in Croydon) to speak from GLA. Scott found other reasons to ban him.
“Paraphrasing Paul Scott, he said the proposed development wasn’t large enough to warrant comment from GLA.
“We argue it is if you count all the BXB developments borough wide as the council does in order to comply with affordability and rental provision (the social housing aspect). This aspect of BXBs plan is all provided on the south of the borough.
“This is ghetto building and socially divisive. “Also I would argue the GLA have a right to comment
on BXBs borough wide plan because of the impact on the Mayor’s London wide transport strategy.”