For over three months Wanstead Lib Dems have been trying to find some answers to very simple questions on Redbridge Council’s newly proposed café kiosk for Christ Church Green.
We asked how much the scheme will cost? What the business plan is for making it pay? And why, when 192 local people formally objected, were these views were ignored and the decision made behind closed doors?
We still don’t have any answers. At the start of October I asked for the minutes of the meeting at which the decision was made, by the council, to approve its own planning application for a new kiosk. We received a summary of decisions. There were no minutes.
We did discover that the council took a decision on August 12 to hold a closed meeting on whether or not to approve the kiosk. What’s called making a decision under “delegated powers”. This was after 192 people had made formal, legal objections. Was this because they didn’t want the people who will have to live with the consequences of their decision turning up at a planning committee meeting and speaking against it? Perhaps. Or was it because their formal planning application was for a “café and bar facility” Leaving the door ajar for the future sale of alcohol?
Since coming to power almost a decade ago the incumbent Labour administration in Redbridge has abolished a swath of public forums such as local Area Committees, Area Planning Committees, Conservation Advisory Panels and reduced the number of council meetings. All of which has made it harder to get a straight answer to a straight-forward question. The local forums they put in place are far worse than what we had before with no minutes taken and no follow up assured.
Frustratingly, all of this could have been resolved quickly, and without embarrassment to the Labour run council, had they just answered the questions we asked of them. But we still don’t know how much the scheme will cost, when or if it will turn a profit and most importantly of all we still don’t know why they chose to ignore 192 people – many of whom reasonably asked for a pause in the process, a better design and to be listened to.
So we, along with local residents, have asked the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate. Perhaps they can shed a light on the shadows of our current council’s decision making processes.
Wanstead Liberal Democrats