Friday, July 10, 2009

Shenanigans in the Council Chambers Ch1

As we predicted would happen there was some excellent entertainment at the LB Newham council chambers last Wednesday:

The outcome of the 'additional' meeting for London City Airports planning application was as expected: it was approved by the 4 councillors who voted (the rest couldn't vote as they either had a conflict of interest or have been receiving 'gifts'). The four were:

Councillor Riaz Ahmed Mirza
Councillor Lakmini Shah
Councillor Amarjit Singh
Councillor Mary Skyers
Councillor Maureen Jones

Cllr Maureen Jones abstained from voting - giving no particular reason for doing so apart from she was not going to vote, but was going to view proceedings.

The section 106 is still to be completed and therefore a formal written grant of approval is still to take place.

However Wednesday nights 'show' at the Newham Council Chambers was particularly impressive:

A resident, who was down to speak as an objector stood up at speakers time, and raised the issue that the Chair, Cllr Amarjit Singh had been delivering labour election leaflets, (and campaigning door to door), which referred to LCY in the Royal Docks just a few months ago - a clear conflict of interest.

The resident presented the leaflet, which showed a picture of the chair out canvassing alongside the article on London City Airport. The Chamber were rather taken aback - the council's Deputy Head of Legal Services Jeremy Appleson asked to see the leaflet, and then promptly asked all the general public, and the press to leave the chamber as they wished to discuss the matter in private.

Fifteen minutes later the public and press were called back in - and the chair read out Jeremy's written statement concluding that there was no conflict of interest (of course!). The resident asked for the meeting to be deferred so he could consult with a solicitor on the issue. The Head of Planning, John Fannon (nice man but disingenous in his role) asked the councils solicitor. He advised they were under no obligation to do so. So all fair and real democracy in Newham! It was very apparent that nothing was going to get in the way of this approval. Even a BAE146 using the roof of Newham Town Hall as a landing strip would not have stood in the way that night. However, the atmosphere in the chamber had plummetted after the events and the wind had been visibly removed from Newham Council, and London city airport's representatives sails.

The resident then went on to give his speech, and read out a list conflicts of interest between LCY, Newham, Newham Homes, Newham University Hospital and Richard Gooding, and the successive failures to apply the section 106.

Newham councils' failure to declare that they were shareholders in the companies which own London City Airport was one of them. He ended on: ''Newham Council is, by agreeing expansion, was agreeing to 'environmental genocide'. Powerful words. This was followed by two further excellent objection speeches by local residents. Newham really could learn a thing or two from residents, if they ever listened.

The airport - despite having registered around 6 'experts' to speak - when asked to speak, only one simply said that they felt Newham had carried out 'a very through examination' and that there ''was nothing more'' they could add. After the contents of those residents speeches? Well quite.

It appears that the legal advisors may have advised them not to speak at that point. And no cheers from them when the votes were cast either - what dampened their spirits? Did the curling lips just get stuck on one or two of their faces?

Bureau Veritas was there representing the council, it seemed as if their independence has made way to producing simply what their client demands. Their report was a complete whitewash, and their findings are, to say the least, questionable. The weasel words 'negligable' and 'minimal impact' when discussing current and future breaches of air and noise pollution were consistently used - sorry Max from BV we are sure you're a nice guy, but it's all disingenuous. The Faber Maunsell report commissioned by the LDA used by Newham for justification, is another whitewash of weasel words, (we'll be commenting on that in more detail on here soon). It was appallingly biased towards the airport (perhaps because they kept meeting with the airport whilst writing it!).

FTF are now considering their options, but rest assured of one thing: FTF are here to stay!

To be continued..............