WALTER CRONXITE on the latest move over the favourable treatment provided to the council’s house-builders by the council’s planning committee
A Croydon MP has asked the council’s chief executive to confirm that an independent investigation will be held into allegations that Paul Scott broke planning law and directed fellow councillors how to vote over applications made by the council’s “award-winning” house-builders, Brick by Brick.
Chris Philp, the Conservative MP for Croydon South, has written to Jo Negrini, Croydon’s chief exec, describing a report which appeared on Inside Croydon last week as containing “credible allegations” regarding the whipping of Labour councillors serving on the planning committee.
Inside Croydon has received confirmation from members of the planning committee that, over the past four years, they have been present at pre-meeting briefings, held by Councillor Scott, where they have been instructed to vote through the Brick by Brick applications.
“If one application is refused, they all fail,” a committee member says they were told by Scott at one of these briefings.
Planning committees are quasi-judicial bodies, and the law forbids that their members should be instructed to vote along party lines.
One veteran Labour councillor, Pat Ryan, not a planning committee member, has also made the allegation about the prejudicial manner in which Scott conducted planning committee business.
Councillor Scott has refused to respond to Inside Croydon’s questions about his conduct.
In his letter to Negrini, Philp said, “If true, this would be a clear breach of a number of rules.
“Please can you confirm that the allegations will be independently investigated.”
Philp’s request places Negrini in a bit of a corner, since the self-proclaimed “regeneration practitioner” has been very closely associated with the Brick by Brick model of turning public money and public land into private homes.
Philp has previously referred Scott’s conduct to the Local Government Ombudsman, though no disciplinary action was taken over the councillor for Woodside ward.
Since 2015, Brick by Brick has submitted planning applications to Croydon Council for more than 40 sites, and a total of 1,036 new homes. Not one Brick by Brick scheme has been refused planning permission.
Scott was chair of the planning committee for all those BxB applications, only resigning the position last month in order to trouser £20,000 extra in council allowances.
Today, Scott was back in his customary place … the Rotten Boroughs section of Private Eye magazine, in an item headlined “Mr Whippy”.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that this entry may now see Scott referred to the Guinness Book of Records, for the most appearances in Lord Gnome’s magnificent organ in a 12-month period.
With Brick by Brick now having won more awards than they have managed to build homes, that at least will be something for Scott to celebrate over his cosy Christmas egg nog with Alison Butler, his wife and the council cabinet member who is responsible for… Brick by Brick.
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