At the end of the brief afternoon session the Inspector conducted a site visit at Lancaster Avenue. She adjorned the Inquiry that was scheduled to end that day until 12 October 2015 for another three days of hearings.
Quite a complex back story here but one of the central questions being asked by the Inspector is what actually is a Synagogue?
Councillor Hugh Rayner (Hale Ward) has written to us with his serious concerns about the behaviour of Labour Councillors in blocking the opening of a 'much needed' primary school at last nights AR&G Committee meeting. Deputy Leader, Councillor Dan Thomas had previously condemned the move as immoral. Here is our footage of that part of the meeting.
Here is his letter in full:
Labour Councillors Block Opening of Primary School in Burnt Oak
It has always been my understanding that councillors of whatever party should act for the benefit of their residents. I know that during elections we become partisan but at other times it is the residents who should come first. I believe that the Labour councillors sitting on the Assets Regeneration and Growth (ARG) Committee failed their residents on Monday by effectively blocking the opening of a badly needed new primary school in Burnt Oak.
The case for a new school on the Pavilion Way site was made over a year ago by the Cabinet Resources Committee and last evening the ARG committee were simply laying in place stepping stones to the opening of a new school in September 2015, a school to which a number of local residents have already put their names down in anticipation. Earlier proposals for this site have included an element of housing. This proposal does not - allowing for any unused land to be set out as green space.
The new school is needed to satisfy the pressing need for primary school places in Barnet in general and in Burnt Oak & Colindale in particular, as was explained by Val White from LBB Education and Skills Directorate, eventually providing 420 primary school places for local families. The site will be let on an Educational Funding Agency model free school lease to Bellvue Place Education Trust, a trust with a proven record for providing community schools. In addition to the school, the project will include an enhanced sports facility to be used by the local community outside of school hours – on a similar model and pricing structure to that at Orion school - in other words an all-weather pitch with changing rooms maintained by the school.
Last evening at ARG it was explained that it was necessary for the report under consideration to be approved in order for the project to move onto the next step – planning. A vote was taken and the Conservative councillors supported the proposals with the Labour councillors effectively abstaining. That would have been that except Cllr Narenthira then asked for the report to be referred up to full Council. When asked for reasons she said it was because of the lack of clarity of how much the use of the sports facilities would cost the community and because none of the three Burnt Oak councillors had been able to attend the committee. Cllr Thomas, the chairman, reemphasized that the community usage costs would be in line with arrangements already in place at Orion and reemphasized that if the matter were referred up to full Council then it could jeopardize the school opening in September 2015.
Acrimonious discussion followed during which Cllr Thomas pointed out that even if this were referred up to full Council that very little further discussion would likely ensue because of time constraints at full Council, and another Conservative councillor pointed out that if this were such an important matter then at least one of the Burnt Oak councillors should have made the effort to attend the meeting - none were there - and maybe address the committee as did Cllr Rayner from the adjoining Hale Ward. Cllr Narenthira said that there had been a mass of objections to these proposals though it was not clear whether the objections were to previous proposals for the site in general or to these particular proposals. When the chairman yet again asked for the Labour councillors to relent the reply came from the Labour councillors that they had a right to refer the matter up and that was what they were doing.
So we now have the situation of a willing school provider waiting on council bureaucracy in order to open a school which is universally accepted as being needed to satisfy the demand locally for primary school places - and the opening of the school is being blocked by the obstinacy of the four Labour members of the ARG committee. As a councillor for adjacent Hale Ward which will be in the catchment area for the new school I am furious at Labour councillors playing politics with children’s education. This proposal is win win for community education, win win for community sport and win win for improving that area of Burnt Oak – it should go ahead without delay.
Cllr Hugh Rayner (Conservative)
Congratulations to newly elected Councillor Rohit Grover. The powers that be decided to move the declaration into another room so they started without us filming (as is their prerohative) and we missed the first part. Here is the rest....
And Hendon results with split screen reaction from the audience added in...