KEN LEE reports on growing support for a petition over the conduct of the council’s planning committee
Four more residents’ associations from around the borough have added their endorsement to a petition which questions the integrity of the council’s planning processes and accuses councillors and officials of conflicts of interest over Brick by Brick, the council-owned housing development company.
Inside Croydon reported on Tuesday that Tollers Estate Residents’ Action Group, Longheath Gardens Residents’ Forum, Auckland Rise Residents’ Group and Shrublands Residents’ Association had all backed the petition, which went live online last weekend. The protesting residents come from a Labour-voting ward in the north of the borough, as well as Conservative wards in the south.
They have since been joined by four more RAs, including some of the largest in the borough.
Coulsdon West RA, Hartley & District RA, Sanderstead RA and the Kenley & District RA have also joined the petitioners.
The petition states that, “Since 2014, decisions made by the committee have appeared to be partial, partisan and predetermined, angering Croydon residents across the borough.” The chair of the planning committee since May 2014 has been Labour councillor Paul Scott.
The petitioners are particularly agitated by Brick by Brick, which has had all of its planning applications approved by Scott and his committee in the past few months.
The residents’ petition has called for “an immediate enquiry into the conduct and moral standing of Councillor Scott”, as well as a call that “all future planning meetings are chaired fairly, with Committee members allowed to vote freely without any partisan pressure.”
Scott is a councillor for Woodside ward who works as a director of the architects’ firm of TP Bennett. He is married to Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the Labour-run council who is the cabinet member in charge of housing policy in the borough.
The petitioners accused Scott of “aggressive chairmanship”, and say that “Elected representatives have been gagged from speaking”.
In the case of Sanderstead RA, the matter of whether they should support the petition was raised at the association’s recent annual meeting.
Mike Leach, the Sanderstead RA secretary, told Inside Croydon that the matter had been discussed and agreed at the AGM, where members’ and residents’ concerns about Brick by Brick’s “in-fill” developments across the borough had been a worry, and in particular plans to build 20 flats on the car park at on Sanderstead Road, but provide no residents’ parking.
“The car park is used both by local train commuters and by customers of the shops opposite the car park, and its loss would be a blow to the local community,” the Sanderstead RA website reports.
“This and other planning matters were discussed at the annual meeting, and it was a matter of great concern to a lot of people. So the association agreed to support the petition,” Leach said.
“We’re aware of one individual trying to claim publicly that we have not spoken about this with our members. That’s simply not true. And this particular person did not attend the annual meeting.”
For more on Brick by Brick and the council’s planning committee decisions, check out the Inside Croydon archive (the petitioners certainly have):
- Anger at Planning Committee as Scott sways Purley vote
- Call for residents to band together over planning issues
- What’s the point of the planning committee with Scott in charge?
- Negrini absurd response over planning conflicts of interest
- Complaint filed to ombudsman over Scott’s conduct
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