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Sep 08 2017

Bob Says: Harrow Council “covering up” it’s financial mismanagement

Investigation by Bob Blackman MP has uncovered concerning evidence that the Labour-run Harrow Council has failed, he says, in its duty of care for public assets, selling publicly owned land to a private enterprise without any level of transparency or care for taxpayer money.

Residents were not advised of the sale and the use of multiple private companies should alert persons as to transparency of local government. The land on which the Hive stadium is built was bought from the London Borough of Camden using taxpayer funds and has now been sold on the cheap to Barnet FC in a rushed manner and without any consultation.

Bob Blackman MP commented: “Local authorities have a responsibility to tax payers to care for public assets in a diligent manner. In this instance, London Borough of Harrow has, in my opinion, failed. Residents were not advised of the sale and the use of multiple private companies should alert persons as to transparency of local government. I suspect this has happened elsewhere in the UK; where a local authority sells off publicly owned land cheap, to cover their own financial mismanagement.

“Residents in the immediate proximity to the site are unhappy and Harrow residents should be angered at how the council has sold off land they – council tax payers – stumped up the cash to purchase initially, at what I consider well below market rate for a site of this size in Greater London. I urge fellow MPs and councillors to review their own constituencies and wards to ensure councils are not acting in such a manner on a wider scale.”

Despite being worth substantially more, the entire site has been sold for a mere £2 million. To add insult to injury, Barnet FC has repeatedly flouted planning regulations by building oversized floodlights and an excessive West Stand, both of which have blighted the lives of local residents and instead of correcting the issues, pursed legal action instead.

Bob Blackman raised the concerning matter in the House of Commons in an Adjournment debate on 7th September 2017, where he highlighted the need for local authorities to manage public assets in a professional and transparent manner.

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  1. Concerned Harrovian

    Part of Byron Park in Wealdstone is to be built upon. There are to be two, ten storey blocks. People need parks to harmonize with nature and for their good mental health. Today it is Byron Park and tomorrow they will be looking to build on other parks if this scheme goes through. Harrow will be come a concrete jungle. Harrow Council could claim green points by painting all their proposed developments green,

    There is a new organization being formed called “Friends of Byron Park”. to look after the interests of park users and to liaise with the Council on their behalf.

  2. Sir Philip Green

    Way to go Bob. Next thing you’ll be uncovering MP’s fiddy their expenses

  3. Someonewhocares

    Perhaps BB is not familiar with the relevant legislation which does not just allow these kinds of ‘developments’ but actively encourages them?

    “ The principal reasons can be traced to the detail in Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, notably the clause formalising “planning gain”, making it in the local authorities’ interests to allow schemes to balloon beyond all reason, in the hope of creaming off the fat of developers’ profits for the public good.

    Introduced as a negotiable levy on new development, Section 106 agreements entail a financial contribution to the local authority, intended to be spent on offsetting the effects of the scheme on the local area. The impact of a hundred new homes might be mitigated by money for extra school places, or traffic calming measures. In practice, since council budgets have been so viciously slashed, Section 106 has become a primary means of funding essential public services, from social housing to public parks, health centres to highways, schools to play areas.

    The bigger the scheme, the fatter the bounty, leading to a situation not far from legalised bribery – or extortion, depending on which side of the bargain you are on. Vastly inflated density and a few extra storeys on a tower can be politically justified as being in the public interest, if it means a handful of trees will be planted on the street. “

    Whoops…! It looks like *the Government* do need to do something about this Bob,, this legislation has been in place for several years now.

    Overall another meaningless backbench sound byte: “Does the Government agree blah blah…..”
    (Yes it does, but will do nothing whatsoever about it): Brownie Points only I am afraid….

    1. Someonewhocares

      Forgot to add an explanation about what “Planning Gain” is for those unfamiliar: Any piece of land is worth more with Planning Permissions than without of cours . In effect Councils’ (Planning Departments) facilitate this.

      The question arising then is how to tax this ‘added valued’ and successive politicians have not really found an acceptable/fair way to do this, even after a decade or so of debate…and Section 106 is not the best answer either.

  4. John Jacobs

    This 44 acre site was originally to be Wealdstone Football Clubs new ground ,they spent 10 years to acquire by canvassing etc, the site originally from owners Camden Council. They spent £4.5 million grant money and 500k of money the club had to 70% build the site. This included drainage and levelling the ground. Laying pitch , mainstand, plus two end stands. The company doing the build went bust. The site and tender returned to Harrow Council who acquire from Camden council. Wealdstone put in a bid but Harrow Council went with a football team from Hertfordshire!! . Had more money folks. Sod the team that was heritage to Harrow going back to late 1800s.
    The original build for Wealdstone.F.C. stated provided no league football was played .and the capacity was 3,000. Agreement with Harrow Council.
    So Barnet came along.. Keith Ferry and his fellow labour councillors then said Ok you can play league football. The Barnet chairman then built ..All against planning regulation..Floodlights that were too high a Major grandstand without permission ,Double the capacity. Meanwhile residents have to endure floodlights that shin in windows undue congestion etc.

    Did Labour Councillor contest this flagrant breach of planning regs. Not a chance and now they have sold a 44acre site for the freehold for £2 million. pounds , The Barnet chairman is laughing all the way to the bank. Harrow Taxpayers Forget it. Thanks Mr Ferry and your Labour pals.

    Mind you looking at the lot of them they would not understand about history of Wealdstone Football Club , and what Harrow once was. A complete Shower Harrow Labour Councillors you lot are.

    £2 million for 44 acre site . Freehold. Taxpayers we have been shafted big time!! And continue to be.

    1. Someonewhocares

      Very interesting JJ! Probably some shame on Camden Council too for not managing it all properly too. Regardless of the c.£5m input how much did Harrow subsequently acquire the site for, do you know? (As the way the ‘accountants’ at Harrow work they would probably think it all a ‘success’ if they made a 50p profit)….. Similarly how were complaints about the too-high floodlights handled – for instance did the local residents escalate it?

      Unfortunately Football does seem to attract such types of ‘corruption’ across the board…

      1. Someonewhocares

        The ‘Brief History’ can be found here:

        https://undertheleague.com/2012/07/10/a-brief-history-of-wealdstones-legacy-at-prince-edward-playing-fields/

        1. Someonewhocares

          And, whilst answering my own questions to an extent, here is the more detailed history/saga:-

          Planning Permission (granted 2008, reviewed 2013):-
          http://www.harrow.gov.uk/www2/documents/s109599/Agenda%2003-09-13.pdf

          Hive supporters blog:-
          http://www.onlybarnet.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5944&sid=942dc3c828ab741902c3ca2b1f06a9f8

          Press Reporting (2014):-
          http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/the-apocalypse-never-happened-barnet-7022268

  5. mike mcfadden

    Well done Mr Blackman. Harrow and its management have been of major concern for some time. The need to have government inspectors put into Harrow is a matter of urgency. I have maintained for some time along with tax-paying residence that all was not as it should be in Harrow council.

    Take the Edgware ward were its supposed to be regeneration ward “why nobody knows” the local tax-paying resident the “forgotten few that give to so many” are being bullied and lied to.
    Many are living in fear and moving away. Then their houses are being turned into HMO’s or worse more like houses of horror. Where family homes are turned into oversized abominations without planning permission.

    Then apparently given retrospective planing permission on the QT. Moreover it seems beds in shed are also given a mock statues just to antagonise local folk further. After countless complains go without properly being answered by Harrow. In what seems to be a criminal act,

    Some residents tell me, they are told by neighbours we work for Harrow council so we can do what we like.
    Many realise its not worth going to the police because like Newham council has shown the police reluctance to fully investigate these sort of crimes against the people.

    Furthermore, Harrow police seem to be part of the problem. They will callously pursue local English speaking folk but ignore actions or complaints by what they consider minority groups (due to the lack of evidence) seems to be their get out clause.*

    White flight from London is real like the atrocities at Rotherham, Rochdale, Birmingham, Oxford and now Newcastle. The authorities are now just realising they must deal with problems before they become a crisis and Harrow is now in crisis with the highest rate of T.B, vermin infestation due in part to over crowding and rubbish thrown in our streets to disguise illegal homes that probably contain illegals that should not be in the U.K.

    I said Harrow’s policy of taking in lost children and failed asylum seekers would end in tears because it was against the will of the tax-paying home owners and residents and would only encourage further abuse. All that Harrow council has done in ten years is turn our low council tax paying area into one of the highest and what was once a nice clean healthy area in to an over populated slum. With all the local services NHS included now critical and getting worse.

    The most recent insult to the Harrow tax-paying residents was to sack 40 street cleaners and give £400,000 of our money to new immigrants to help them “integrate” . What planet are these councillors on? What I’ve seen most of this massive new influx don’t want to “integrate” they want us to change to fit in with their way of life,like it or not.!!

    I’m afraid this is a wake-up call to all. If lying and denying has lead to dishonesty and corruption which it normally does, those responsible must pay financially and with their liberty.

    Time to get serious folks. Regards Mike Mcfadden Someone who refuses to hide.

    1. red mirror

      mike how recent were the lay offs?a lot of people are unaware of this i think wow that is a hefty chunk they couldn’t manage before now what? thanks for highlighting that fact.

      1. mike mcfadden

        I got it from the street cleaners themselves. As you’re aware Harrow will ignore a request for information or mislead and lie. We deserve better much better.

        1. red mirror

          your right there interesting mike thanks for that poor sods must be in doldrums with christmas round the corner not that compassion is high .on harrow councils list

    2. mike mcfadden

      It seems I have an update on the revitalisation of Edgare ward Harrow is in fact an experiment. Now who gave them the right to use our homes and interfere with Tax-payers lives in this way?

      The council can give any name they like to what happening in Edgware but its population replacement. The local people are being replaced with Muslims. “WHY” Who declare war on local folk.? What we are seeing is extremely dangerous behaviour by an out of control council that hates. But WHY. Government inspectors need to talk to local people who are being effected.

  6. red mirror

    i think bobby should change the selfie its more cheesy than a gorgonzola factory just saying is all.

  7. West Harrow Willy

    @ John Jacobs – the stand is exactly the same capacity – just a bit higher to meet FA rules & regs on tv cameras being able to film without obstruction when fans leap up in the air if a goal’s scored. Tony Kleanthous had no choice but to comply and thence apply for retrospective planning permission, which is not illegal and which happens all the time. The lights were made higher so that there is less light spillage from them, which is much better for the local residents. Harrow Council’s planning committee rejecting that retrospective planning application cost you and your fellow council tax payers a quarter of a million pounds in costs and compensation to Barnet FC as well as around £30k legal costs to Harrow Council, because Tony Kleanthous won on appeal, as he was always going to. So yes, the Barnet chairman laughed all the way to the bank – because of an idiotic costly planning committee decision influenced by the ward Cllr, Sachin Shah, the MP Bob Blackman, the former planning portfolio holder Marylin Ashton and a couple of dozen local residents.

    1. Someonewhocares

      It is apparent WHW that the Council had balked at a £300K cost of refusing Barnet FC’s appeal, although clearly, if the rejection of retrospective planning was highly unlikely, local residents would probably not have been impressed if the Council simply said “there’s no point, Barnet will win” (?), “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”? Do you concur?

      This whole saga was obviously a lengthy mess:of course; However I still don’t really see BB’s point though, particularly what contributions to this he made at the time.

      Perhaps ‘the lesson learnt’ is that developers simply have the money, time and commercial acumen to force through ‘unpopular’ Plans like this and the Councils don’t?

  8. John Jacobs

    West Harrow Willy.

    Firstly Why are u following a team from Hertfordshire if u live in the Borough ?

    You are correct the main stand was constructed by Wealdstone is the same BUT the new stand on the jubilee railway side has what a capacity of 2,000.??

    Look when this was started Harrow Council stated site was “not to be” available for football league matches…Non League ONLY.

    Main reason crowds /trafficin the area. At the time Wealdstone gates were around 600.

    Barnet being in the football league attract gates between 2,000 and 5,000 so major major problems for residents.

    Harrow Councils Mr Ferry and his team waived that stumbling block away giving the Hertfordshire club free rain to play football league matches on site.
    The stipulation was that Wealdstone could also use the site. BUT that lovely Mr Kleanthous Barnet chairman stated I will buy out your right to play at the ground that through F.A. Grants and your money you helped 70% build for £50,000 pounds.

    Also Kleanthous stated that you can NOT earn money from bar site/food areas on match days that money will come to Barnet only.. but .. That is part of the life blood of non league teams.

    Meanwhile during these summer months Staff from Harrow council enjoyed playing a match on the ground thanks to the kind generosity of Barnet.

    You mention Sachin Shah /Navin Shah.. ok on cricket only.. but as for the heritage of Harrow on your bike.

  9. red mirror

    so bob come on tell us about the forty layoffs of street cleaners you must know about this surely?

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