Sunday, 1 June 2014

Adjourned Again

The inquiry into the refused Mosque planning application at 2-4 Green Lane was adjourned again after two more days of hearing evidence on Thursday and Friday (29th and 30th May respectively). As more and more people come forward to speak and to then be cross examined the conclusion to this inquiry is getting further and further away.

The Friday had been planned as a site visit for the inspector to see what it is like around lunchtime on a Friday which is supposed to be the weekly time when the Mosque would be at it's busiest. This had been the only time when all parties were available for a site visit but after it was pointed out that this was during half term and that the traffic would not be typical of normal Friday traffic it was decided that the inspector would visit the site at another time and the day would instead be used to hear further evidence.

The hearing will now recommence on Tuesday 14th October as apparently the counsel for both parties and the inspector all have other commitments over the next few months. Yes that's right - October.

Of the six newly elected Lib Dem councillors in the area (Worcester Park and Nonsuch wards), only one (Arthur Hookway) was in attendance at the hearing while two of the unsuccessful candidates were there (Richard Edmonds and myself). I hope these elected representative start to show an interest in the important issues in the area soon...


54 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Worcester park resident said...

I enjoy reading local news but please do not put a political spin on your stories. They should be free from political bias (as much as possible anyway).

JaneL said...

Let's hope they do the site visit early in October after the hearing has recommenced ... there is a half term at the end of October too.

Guest D said...

How many of the successful candidates for the Old Malden ward were there, it is after all just a stone's throw from being in LBK. And Kingston Council were amongst the objectors.

guest said...

I think you misunderstood what the point was.More councillors should have been present for the meeting regardless which party you support,so best you stop putting a pollitical spin on this and concentrate on the main points.By the way well done to Arthur Hookway who thoroughly deserved to be representing us once again.If the proposal gets the go ahead(lets face it we know they are going to cave in) then residential parking permits in surrounding areas and only the first hour free parking at Waitrose for those not using the shops will put paid to Mr Aziz and his ridiculous ideas.Everyone knows this should not have gone to inquiry stage wasting vast amounts of taxpayers money and the mere fact that it has makes us all think something very fishy is going on.Now maybe is the time to let Mr Aziz have his way then he will see why it will not work when people using the mosque will end up with nowhere to park.Parking tickets for using the Post Office car park and overstaying Waitrose car park.Think a friend of mine came up with a good idea, maybe park a car outside his house and leave it there see how he likes it.

Guest said...

If you had been there, you wouldn't have needed to ask.

Guest said...

5 out of 6 of our newly elected councillors failed to turn up - FACT! Reporting this is political bias? So do you believe it's politically biased to expect local councillors to undertake the elected duties? Or is expecting Liberal Democrat Councillors to undertake the same elected duties as everyone else 'political bias'?

"I'm passionate about building strong local communities and creating a safe and cohesive society where people and independent businesses can thrive."
Councillor Sam Bourne, Nonsuch Ward, Focus, April 2014.
Really? That passion certainly didn't last long then!

Guest said...

So, to be clear, and without any political spin...

Arthur Hookway is to be commended for turning up. The other 5 local councillors (two of whom represent the very ward) didn't, but that's ok because they're Lib Dems.

However, in contrast, if Conservative Councillors from not just outside the Ward, but outside the Borough failed to turn up, then it's really bad!

Gino said...

I would like to know the financial cost to the council tax payer in defending the council's original decision to decline the inappropriate planning application .
How much?
Do (any)of the councilors know the figure to date ?

Guest D said...

Gino,
Are you really suggesting the council should have caved in the moment an objection was raised to save the cost of defending it?

Guest D said...

So for the sake of us that had to work those days, perhaps you can enlighten us.

Guest said...

As a committed Liberal Democrat, I left it to others to turn up. I was, more than likely, far too busy writing about my commitment to and passion for the people of Worcester Park.

Simon Densley (Blogger, Consv) said...

The Conservative councillors in Old Malden ward have already shown they are prepared to fight planning applications in their ward/borough on behalf of their residents. Why should they have to also wade in to applications in LBS when they have their own elected representatives?


By contrast, one Sutton Lib Dem ex-councillor had the following to say about the Green Lane Mosque application: "Personally I thought that application was reasonably strong and if I had sat on that meeting would have probably voted in favour." (http://cllrlesterholloway.wordpress.com/2013/10/12/consultation-meeting-on-ismaili-centre-in-worcester-park/). None of the previous Lib Dem councillors lifted a finger to fight the application apart from Stephen Fenwick who did the bare minimum and later ceased to be a Lib Dem. Conversely both Conservative councillors joined the fight against this application from the beginning.

Gino said...

A question is not a suggestion is it.
My long standing question remains unanswered .
I believe the tax payer has a right to know how much of their money is being diverted.
Do you suggest the tax should not be informed ?

Guest D said...

I understand that point, but equally if Green Lane had been just the other side of the border as the possible application to turn the WP Tavern into a community centre was, what would your attitude be.


I would have expected you, if elected to have been heavily involved in that decision, as it would have had great impact on the people of your ward. As the Green Lane Mosque will have on the people of Old Malden.


After all most of the supporters are from New Malden and would be travelling through Old Malden to get there.


A councillor is elected to deal with the issues of the people of their ward and should not ignore them if they happen to be 50 metres across the border.

Guest D said...

But not when a politician asks a question.


Do you seriously think that when Ed Milliband asks a question at Prime Minister's Question Time, he doesn't know the answer? He does it to sow seeds of discontent in the electorates mind.


You also know that there is no way of knowing what the cost will be until the Adjudicator calls a halt to proceedings. And even then if the council loses, the plaintiff may proceed against the council to recover his costs.


The tax payer will be informed in due course, it will be in the Council's audited accounts and you can ask a question at a council meeting to find out or put a FOI request in.


But as we have discussed here before, it will cost a considerable amount of money.


Now a direct question, do you think the council was wrong in defending its decision? or should it have saved the cost and let Mr Aziz have his Mosque?

Guest said...

"A councillor is elected to deal with the issues of the people of their ward" Exactly! And already 5 out of 6 Lib Dem Councillors have failed at the first hurdle!

Rather than continually try to deflect onto the Tory Councillors in nearby Kingston, or the Labour Councillors in nearby Merton, or the Independent Councillors in Epsom...

Have the strength of character (yes, I know that's a rare commodity within the Lib Dems) to admit that within weeks of election, 5 out of 6 of your newly elected Lib Dem Councillors in Worcester Park could not even be arsed to turn up to their first important meeting and represent their constituents.

I'm sure most of us are very grateful to Simon Densley and Richard Edmonds and committed members of the Worcester Park Residents' Association, for standing in for the five disinterested Liberal Democrat Councillors.

And by the way, what do you think the appellant behind the Mosque will gauge from 5 out of 6 Councillors not giving a damn? My guess they will be delighted and encouraged by five no shows!

To me, it looks like we have elected the wrong Councillors!

Gino said...

It is a (two horse race in W.P)
I am of the understanding that the cost to the council tax payer for defending the application decline will be revealed when the process is done and dusted .That means one ,the potential cost must be known and or two its a gamble.
The other point is I am not aware of any faith that condones gambling ,think about it.
Therefore can anyone tell me is there a bookmaker that may give me favourable odds so that we can have chance of winning our tax back?

Guest D said...

A true democracy also has a judicial element, otherwise it's an autocracy, what we are witnessing is that element being put in place.


There must always be a way to hold a governmental body either local or national to account, in addition to sparodic elections.


I don't like the way Eric Pickles has reduced the power of councils in planning matters, but we won't have a chance to get rid of him until next year.


I don't support Mr Aziz's application, I think it is deeply flawed, but I do support his right to appeal.

Gino said...

Can you explain how Mr Pickles has reduced council authority, please ?
I agree that all decision makers should when nessasary be held to account .
The appeal will conclude whether or not the council has made a good decision ,should the decision be in favour will LBS recover ( all) costs ,indeed should LBS fail do we the council tax payer have the same right of appeal to in order to claim against LBS for what then surely be an unlawful decision ?

Guest D said...

Mr Pickles extend the permitted development rights that developers have, for example any retail unit can now be changed to housing under permitted development, many local councils including Conservative ones tried to get this ruled as illegal as they didn't want their high streets to become residential.

As you know the way current planning law works, the right of appeal only lies with the developer, the developer can sue if successful to recover their costs if the council was found to be negligent in its application of the planning law. I think that if Mr Aziz suceeds the adjudicator will rule that it is not due to the failure of the Council's planning officers (the Councillors have not overturned but accepted the decision of the planning officers, so they can't be held accountable).

Any individual can take out a case against any other individual, so feel free to sue the planning officer if you feel he was at fault in not accepting this application, which was against the borough policy and flawed due to its impact on parking.

To return to Eric Pickles, when this appeal fails don't be surprised to see that the Bank Chambers is converted under permitted development to a residential property that looks very much like a Mosque.

Thinker said...

Ooh such bitchiness. Did you attend all of the sessions because I saw at least three Lib Dem councillors there and two of them were definitely from Worcester Pk as I recognised their photos from their recent leaflets. Furthermore am I mistaken in thinking that the plans were initially opposed by the local residents association chaired by, the now councillor, Arthur Hookway. At the hearing he was very good at explaining that the site was impractical because of the inevitable traffic chaos likely should the plans become approved. Why on earth would you as failed Conservative candidates want to attract attention to yourselves by lying in this way about an issue that you clearly jumped on for the sake of popularity. Could your tactics be one of the reasons you failed to get a single candidate elected?

Thinker said...

Yes. Except for the fact, without even MENTIONING political affiliations, I saw at two of the three Worcester Pk Councillors at the meeting.

Gino said...

Thank you for the information .
Now that my head has stopped spinning ,should the outcome be against LBS it will be due to a council department ,is that true?
Should the premises be registered as residential all health and safety regulations must be abided with ,including the number of residents that are permitted.
The successful outcome for LBS will mean that (all) costs can be returned to LBS ,is that the case?

Guest D said...

No that is not the way it works, Governments including the current the previous ones and back to Maggie's have increased the rights of developers.


The council can't claim back any of their costs.


Yes the council can impose rules on the number of residents but that is extremely high, but they can't restrict the number of 'guests' invited to 'parties'. I believe that a council in Bristol are having issues with a house Mosque.


And seriously why was it wrong for the council to accept the decision of its officers, how are they to blame for that, should they have overturned it?

Gino said...

I am not implying anyone has done wrong at all.
I simply want to know whether or not as a tax payer these costly issues are in the best interest of the community .
Who will benefit from the accountability ?

AlanRogers1 said...

If the original planning decision is upheld the people who will benefit from the accountability are the residents of Worcester Park and anyone who travels through Worcester Park or wants to come shopping to Worcester Park.

Gino said...

And should the decision not be upheld ?

Guest D said...

The people who benefit are those who will come to enjoy the increased traffic and parking problems as they worship at the new Mosque and of course all those expensive lawyers that both sides have had to employ.

AlanRogers1 said...

It seems that the vast majority of Worcester Park residents agreed with the original decision and I am happy that the Council is defending what it considers to be the correct decision. If the decision is not upheld I will be disappointed to say the least. If we all have to pay a bit more in Council Tax next year then that's the price you pay for standing up for what you think was the right planning decision. If Councils threw in the towel every time their planning decisions are challenged at appeal then every developer would get whatever they want just by appealing.

AlanRogers1 said...

Thank you Simon for attending the appeal and maintaining an interest in this matter.

Thinker said...

Conflicting FACT - 2 out of 3 Worcester Park Councillors DID turn up. Had your reporter been there for for the entire duration, like Arthur Hookway, he would have noticed that.

Guest D said...

No its really bad that out of the nine councillors that represent the Greater London part of Worcester Park only two are recorded as turning up. Not to mention the three in Epsom and Ewell.

But, they may have had other business engagements for that day, they are not full time paid officials like MPs.

I just think Simon should have not tried to make a political point, particularly when his attendence was only a half day and could not comment on the other half day.

guest said...

Be assured that I have collected the equipment to barricade Beverley Gardens if Mr Aziz wins his appeal he and his followers will not be using this road! I also think we should organise an all day protest outside Bank Chambers on the day in October they are planning to visit it.....Us residents of WP need to now be showing how against it we are....we have all sent many letters and signed petitions but still this ongoing....Have really had enough of all this....It is now time to stand up to him and show he cannot treat local people this way.

AlanRogers1 said...

All the residents in Kingshill Avenue and Pembury Avenue are represented by "The Conservative councillors in Old Malden ward" as you described them Simon. The councillors in Old Malden ward should definitely be involved.

AlanRogers1 said...

Reading the original blog post I had assumed that Simon was there for the duration. The half day he attended though was more than I did but it does seem he is playing politics with the blog again. I agree that it is bad that more councillors did not turn up, including the Old Malden ward councillors in Kingston. They represent the residents in KingshiIll Avenue and Pembury Avenue as well as a large area just the other side of the railway bridge.

Gino said...

So it is true then ,which ever way it cuts ,the tax payer foots the cost for others to benefit .
Time for prospective MPs and existing ones to push for new fair planning application laws perhaps .

Gino said...

First we need to establish when the visit will be ,does anyone know the date ,I hope this information will available ,it is after all in the public interest and fully funded by the council tax payer.

Guest D said...

I agree with you Gino, for too long Governments of whatever political persuasion have bent over backwards to suit developers, in vain attempt to get more housing built.


If the developer had to pay the council's costs if they lose they would be less likely to chance their arm.

Guest D said...

Gino, I'm sure your are not suggesting that the parking and traffic problems would be at their worst then, as they will most likely pick the time when the residents of Worcester Park go shopping.

Gino said...

Well it is after all only right that those who benefit should contribute financially .
It appears that while the applicants hold property that is an appreciating asset ,it is a liability for the council tax payer that only has the cost .
There are others up and down the high street too.

Gino said...

Were I to have a choice ,I would say (5) assessments on one day ,to be decided by the pertionists .
As this won't happen ,(8a.m) on a Monday and on a school day.

The Dutchman said...

Shouldn't the visit be at the time that the expected increase in traffic will occur rather than when it's busiest. An increase of 0 cars at the busiest time should have no impact on the planning proposal.

Gino said...

I personally would rather regular events be the yardstick as a measure rather than expectation .
I was taught never to expect anything ,to avoid disappointment .
There appears to be enough gambling going on with our council as it is.

Dave said...

Has Mr. Aziz attended the inquiry?
If not, when is he expected to attend?
If he does not turn up, what reasonable conclusions would the adjudicator, and those who gave up their time to attend, be entitled to draw?
Has the matter of the "greenness" of the second application, which is about all that distinguishes it from the first, been raised yet?
In what sense of the word is this a 'democratic' process, when the tiniest minority seek to out-weigh the wishes of the overwhelming majority?

Wpman said...

That's life in the Uk now it's all about minorities . Trying to think of a way to become one myself ! So I can ride roughshod over everybody and any common sense

Guest D said...

This isn't about democracy, it is about the application of planning law and thankfully we don't have democracy in the judicial process.


If you want planning law changed, you need to ask the candidates in the forthcoming General Election whether we would support a return of control over planning decisions to Local Authorities away from Central Government.


But think on, if there was true democracy in the process, nothing would get built, the NIMBYs would always outnumber those in favour.

The Dutchman said...

I know - isn't disgusting that we consider the concerns and issues of deaf people, the gay community, Catholics, OAPs and so on. If only we could get rid of them all our problems would be solved.

Wpman said...

Sorry to offend you and the groups you mentioned, my gripe is with the planning application and Not with individual groups of human beings.

guest said...

Mr Aziz has never attended any of the public meetings.Rest assured though many of us will make our feelings known on the 14th October.He needs to realise he lives less than a mile away from the site so many of his neighbours (including me) know who he is.Will he turn up on the 14th?, doubt it.Then again he is probably making so much money as an illegal hostel maybe he is not bothered by the outcome.Sutton council hang your head in shame, you have not even investigated this.

Alex said...

Do you 'think' you can name these three Lib Dem Councillors for us?...

We certainly don't need to thank Worcester Park's Lib Dem Councillors for anything related to this mosque. With the exception of Stephen Fenwick, the last lot of had a very poor record of spinelessly trying not to be seen or engage.

Amongst over 4,000 of us that actively objected and Arthur Hookway opposed it whilst Chair of the WPRA working for the community. Unfortunately, now he's left the WPRA and is working for the Lib Dems.

To recall (and correct your political 'spin' ), many residents and traders contributed to the evidence presented by Arthur and resulting decisions against the mosque. We worked as a team and as a community and this formed the basis of the objection put forward by Arthur, after the Lib Dems let us down.

In the meantime, who are these other two 2 Lib Dem Councillors? And by process of elimination, who are the 3 Worcester Park Lib Dem Councillors, who are paid £10K a year, free travel, free accommodation, free meals and just weeks after being elected, can't be bothered to engage?

Mary said...

Maybe if worcester park residents actually attended the October meeting and showed there objections to this planning objection,instead of sitting waiting to hear the outcome having done nothing to stop it,they would be entitled to moan. I have attended the last two meetings giving up 8hours each day and hope the planning application fails. Traffic in and out of Green lane and Worcester Park is so bad already,the bus now stops up past the sports club,rather than at the end of Green Lane. Hallelulia,transport for London finally realised where these buses previously stopped caused congestion !!! Does this not tell the investigator who has the final decision on the application that it's just NOT viable.

guest said...

Mary, I've put in formal objections at each round and fed in my evidence to the WPRA at each stage. I also offered to contribute as one of the community opposing at this appeal, but was turned down - all the slots were apparently full.

Having offered and been turned down, I couldn't see any real merit in my taking two days off work to silently keeping a seat warm. But it was certainly disappointing to learn, that when the time came, not everyone who took a slot actually delivered. Speaking of whom, on a related theme...

As you were there for the 2 days, can you tell us all which of our (salaried plus expenses) newly elected local Councillors were there? Arthur Hookway is known to have been there, and contributed, but what about...
Richard Marston?
Paul Wingfield?
Samantha Bourne?
Richard Broadbent?
Daniel Sangster?

Mary said...

As you know ArturHookway did attend. Perhaps Mr.Hookway would be the best person to direct your question to,sorry I cannot help.

Guest F said...

Free travel ? Free meals? Free accomodation ? Simon, Cllrs aren't MPs - yes they receive £10,000 but the rest is utter nonsense and if you try to challenge that, read the public records on Sutton.gov. Looks like WP missed a bullet when you didn't get yourself elected......or even came in as first choice conservative to someone lower on the list.

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