Residents disgusted after Scott ‘gloats’ over court ruling

Paul Scott, the controversial chair of the council’s planning committee, has angered residents close to the Woodside ward he is supposed to represent by “gloating” over the outcome of a legal challenge to one of his committee’s decisions.

Paul Scott

Gloating: Paul Scott

“Delighted but not surprised that the courts have resoundingly kicked out the Judicial Review claiming a perception of bias in planning decisions made in Croydon on Brick by Brick applications,” Scott, only an occasional presence on social media, chose to tweet early on Friday, almost before the ink was dry on the High Court documents. “Two judges now have thrown the case out condemning its lack of credibility!”

Scott’s tweet got just a single retweet on Friday, from his mate and ward colleague, Tony “Soprano” Newman, the council leader.

The Judicial Review had been brought by neighbours in South Norwood, concerned that their homes will be forever blighted by the building of an ugly three-storey block of flats at the end of their gardens by Brick by Brick, and which Scott’s committee waved through. The cost of bringing the case – possibly as much as £20,000 – was raised through crowd-funding.

Brick by Brick is the council’s wholly owned housing developer. The council’s planning committee, under Scott, has granted all 43 applications presented by Brick by Brick since 2015. The Labour-run council’s cabinet member responsible for housing, and Brick by Brick, is Alison Butler, whose husband is… Paul Scott.

In a week in which Inside Croydon revealed that Butler’s son was working for a company which has been hired – using public funds – by Brick by Brick, and that the housing company’s scheme for 2,000 flats on College Green had all but collapsed, it was notable that the usually tardy council press office zoomed into action on the court judgement with unseemly haste.

“It was alleged the decision to approve the development, by five members to four, was undermined by the relationship between BxB as the applicant, the council and the chairman of the planning committee creating the appearance of bias,” the council press release stated, failing to mention the husband and wife relationship between Butler and Scott.

The council related that Mr Justice Ouseley, the judge who reviewed the initial decision, “confirmed there was nothing, in principle, unlawful in BxB being owned and funded by Croydon Council to bring forward sites for residential development, particularly affordable homes.

“It was also confirmed that there was nothing unlawful in council members being in favour of the activities of BxB.  Any claims in relation to bias in the decision-making process as a result of personal relationships between councillors were dismissed.”

The council press release included a couple of notable factual errors, inserted perhaps deliberately to deceive. First, they claimed the date when Brick by Brick was founded was 2016 (it was registered at Companies House three years ago, in 2015), and claimed that “around half” of the homes being provided are “affordable housing”. The council’s affordable target for Brick by Brick is 50 per cent, though the company’s own business report earlier this year admitted that only 38 per cent of the homes for which it had obtained planning permission would be affordable.

As at today’s date, Brick by Brick has built precisely zero homes. This, too, was unmentioned by the council’s well-paid spin-doctors.

But it was the graceless attitude of Scott, who receives around £38,000 per year in council allowances, which upset residents, many anxious about over-development of their own neighbourhoods, and some of whom had contributed to the crowdfunded legal challenge.

Toogood and neighbours

Pip Toogood and her neighbours fought to stop their area being wrecked by Brick by Brick overdevelopment

“It’s very sad when an elected local representative gloats on Twitter,” one resident wrote, expressing sentiments typical of several others on social media.

“Scott has the power to punish those who dare to question him. He controls the Labour councillors on the planning committee. Go against him, and that’s you off the committee.”

Alex Toogood, the South Norwood resident who brought the Judicial Review on behalf of her family and neighbours after Scott’s committee granted planning permission to the scheme on Avenue Road, maintained tonight that the decision had been reached despite the scheme failing “to meet numerous local and regional policies and guidelines”.

Toogood said, “It will have a huge detrimental impact on surrounding homes. Together with other local residents, I looked deper into Croydon’s planning process, which led to our genuine concerns over the relationship between the council and Brick by Brick. It is clear that many people from across the borough have similar concerns.

“Many in Croydon are worried that the need for more housing is being used to justify any means of getting it. I still firmly believe that council-led developments should be designed in partnership with local communities.”

Toogood was speaking less than a week since the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had laid out rules for estate redevelopment schemes to require a vote of existing residents before qualifying for any City Hall funding. One of Toogood’s supporters said, “Contrast that to the situation in Croydon, where residents feel that they are sneered at by the people they have elected to public office.”

Toogood, for her part, was not taking her fight any further. “We accept the judge’s ruling and will not be appealing,” she said. “I’d like to thank the huge number of people who have supported us.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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6 Responses to Residents disgusted after Scott ‘gloats’ over court ruling

  1. davidjl2014 says:

    This is brilliant reporting by Inside Croydon, long may it continue to expose these people who get paid more than nurses and firemen, but deliver nothing to our community. It’s a public outrage and something must be done.

    • Ian Geary says:

      Can I just check: are you saying councillors get more than nurses / firemen? planners? Or brick by brick staff?

      I actually think councillors deliver quite a lot…yes, they get paid, but how many people complain about things but are happy to leave it to others to sort out? The Councillors I have met spend a lot of time helping other people.
      It is not a job everyone could do (like firefighting)

      People died to get franchised, and if you think the ability to choose who governs you isn’t important, can I suggest you pay a trip to Cambodia?

      • David Mogoh says:

        Ian, you have managed to somewhat tenuously link being a councillor to being a firefighter. Now, I don’t know you from Adam so am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you might either have been sarcastic or just simply extremely naive. Presumably the latter, so allow me to educate you.
        Firefighters put their lives on the line in order to save others.
        Councillors sometimes turn up at meetings and get paid serious amounts of cash in expenses for doing so (or not).
        Yes there are no doubt some bad firefighters out there and most likely some good councillors too. But please, in the name of Alison Butler, try not to confuse the two.

        • In Croydon Council’s 41-strong Labour group, more councillors now receive Special Responsibility Allowances than do not.

          Tony Newman’s hand-picked cabinet members – now numbering 12 – all get paid at least £38,000 per year in council allowances. Several of them are “part-time”, and meanwhile undertake other, salaried work.

          The question of whether, for such large amounts of public money, these councillors represent good value when compared to nurses, firefighters or teachers, is a valid one.

  2. James Caldwell says:

    Poor reporting by Inside Croydon here and using the words “gloating”. The way you continue to vilify the Planning Committee decisions is disappointing. I think he has every right to be delighted. As for the comment regarding “delivering nothing to the community”, Councillor Scott has done more to promote development, to deliver homes and to promote economic growth in Croydon than any other Councillor in date.

    • “Poor reporting”? Poor reading on your behalf, it seems: we have only reported the comments made by residents, who accuse Scott of unseemly gloating. And we’re sure, James, you’ll agree that other people are entitled to an opinion.

      Not sure how many people would share your opinion of Cllr Scott’s “contribution” to the community, though.

      Funny, as a new commenter, we had a quick check to see if we could find a James Caldwell in Croydon, and lo and behold, we did…

      The only one we could find is the managing director of Turnbull Land, a company which in January 2017 was granted planning permission – against the wishes of local residents, who opposed the overdevelopment – to build three houses in a back garden development in Church Way, Sanderstead. The proposal to grant planning permission was put, from the chair, by Cllr Paul “Friend Of The Developer” Scott.

      It would seem that Scott’s wife, Alison Butler, is not the only one who’s forgotten to declare her interests lately…

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