Planning committee dominated by Oasis school governors

Angry residents from Woodside and South Norwood are considering a formal complaint about the conduct of a meeting on Thursday in which four of the 10 members of the council’s planning committee, including the chairman, all had some connection with the Oasis educational organisation which is behind an application to build a 1,000-pupil secondary school on public land alongside Croydon Arena.

Croydon Arena as it is today. Part of Metropolitan Open Land could be built upon just to make way for car parking

Croydon Arena as it is today. Part of Metropolitan Open Land could be built upon just to make way for car parking

Paul Scott, the planning committee chairman and a Labour councillor for Woodside ward, is a former governor of an Oasis school. Tory councillors Jason Perry and Chris Wright are believed to be current governors at schools run by the evangelical Christian Oasis organisation.

A fourth councillor who also declared that they serve as an Oasis school governor could not be identified by residents due to the poor presentation of the meeting. “They all just mumbled,” said one visitor to the public gallery.

None of the past or present governorships are declared on the council’s online register of members’ interests, although they all properly admitted their conflict of interests at the meeting. But none of those with a declared interest in Oasis schools excluded themselves from the meeting which followed.

Oasis runs four primary schools and two secondary schools in the borough, and the proposed six-forms-of-entry Oasis Arena Academy is already listed on the council website as accepting admissions in September 2015. According to one member of the planning committee, the previous Conservative-run council signed a contract with Oasis to provide a new academy on the Arena site.

One resident told Inside Croydon that Thursday’s meeting made them despair. “We are just astounded that those councillors with clear conflicts of interest remained in the meeting,” they said. “We are considering whether as residents to lodge a complaint.

“It was a poor performance by some councillors, who appeared ill-informed and indifferent,” the resident said.

Although the committee papers stated specifically that there were no public speaking rights for interested parties, the principal of the Shirley Oaks Academy, which is run by Oasis, was invited to address the committee.

Residents opposed to the proposals in their neighbourhood were further excluded from the process when part of the meeting was held in secret, with the public gallery cleared.

Serious reservations exist about the inappropriate nature of the proposed site for such a large school, especially because of the traffic implications. There are also doubts about the accuracy of the council’s figures for school place demand which were used to justify the proposal.

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This entry was posted in Chris Wright, Croydon Council, Education, Environment, Oasis Academy, Parking, Paul Scott, Planning, Ryelands Primary and Nursery, Schools, Tony Newman, Transport, Woodside and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Planning committee dominated by Oasis school governors

  1. davidcallam says:

    You might be excused for thinking that nothing much has changed in Croydon following the local authority elections last May. It seems someone influential behind the scenes is saying to Labour: “Don’t rock the boat.” And for contractual reasons, or otherwise, Labour is complying.

  2. Dave King says:

    I truly believe these Councillors should be excluded and removed from the Council

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