Tory 'Disappearing Act' Allows Acton Piazza 'Vanity Project'

Lib-Dem fury over Acton planning committee decision


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Conservatives have sparked anger after walking out of a planning meeting discussing a controversial site in Acton.

The group of five Councillors withdrew from the committee which was looking at a (previously rejected) application for development at the junction of Chase Road & Victoria Road, W3.

It had been turned down in August on the grounds of overdevelopment, lack of amenities and lack of affordable housing but was allowed to be put back on the table on the basis of a ministerial statement.

Conservative say that what's really at stake is the £600k (S106) money that the Labour administration needs to fund the concrete piazza planned for North Acton Station.

Cllr Ian Potts, Conservative Spokesman for Planning said an agenda is at play:

“The Conservative Group is not satisfied that this is a legitimate matter for the Planning Committee and finds it somewhat odd that the Committee is being asked to reconsider an application that was refused three months earlier on the strength of a Ministerial announcement about an on an upcoming consultation. In the past, the Council has ignored ministerial announcements when it suited them.

''It is quite clear that there is an agenda at play here which wants a scheme to go ahead despite being over developed and provides little affordable housing. This does not put the Council in good light.

Labour say that clear legal advice was given to the meeting which allowed the committee to re-consider the application.

They say planning decisions should be taken independently - not on political party lines and have condemned the walk-out.

Labour leader and cabinet member for planning Cllr Julian Bell said :

“I am very disappointed by the way the Tories are playing politics with the planning process. Instead of doing the job local people voted them onto the council to do and representing their residents the Tories prefer to storm out of meetings and issue press releases.

''If individual Tories object to a planning application they should air their objections at the meeting and then accept the result of a vote without playing party politics. That is what residents expect of councillors.''

The Tory walkout meant that the committee, with seven Labour Councillors, were able to vote through the planning application with little opposition.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Nigel Bakhai who voted against the development, said:

''It was absolutely disgraceful for no less than five Tory Councillors to leave the meeting before this crucial application was discussed. 

 ''I objected to the application because it doesn’t include enough affordable housing – only 20 units out of 151. It is also a poor design, and made up of a series of multiple storey tall buildings – which is overdevelopment for this area.

''Because of the Tory Councillor's disappearing act, the Labour-run Council were able to vote through this application – and it also means they can now spend a whopping £692,000 on a vanity project not supported by local residents.''  

Ealing Liberal Democrat Leader Gary Malcolm added:

''It shows a complete lack of care for the borough as a whole and a complete disregard for the planning process – but unfortunately we have come to expect this from the Conservatives in Ealing.

''They are not an effective or credible opposition to the reckless Labour administration, and they clearly have no sense of responsibility. Ealing deserves better.''

12th November 2012




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