Minutes 25 - new Bermondsey (Formerly Surrey Canal Triangle) Compulsory Purchase Order
The Chair welcomed the Chief Executive to the meeting.
The Chief Executive said there wasn't any additional information he could give Panel Members apart from what was circulated to them earlier from his office. He said he received correspondence from Lambeth Smith Hampton (LSH) asking for all pertinent key information. The Chief Executive said this information would be made available to all Councillors in due course.
Councillor Dacres said she was aware there was new information which the Cabinet had based its decision to postpone decision on the Business Panel call-in. The Chief Executive said there was a document which was the basis of an article in the Guardian but he could not say this was new information. Councillor Dacres said if the Cabinet can make a decision based on this information then it would seem right for Business Panel to see this information. Councillor Handley said Cabinet had made a decision as to whether this information was relevant or not, and Business Panel might have a different view. The Chief Executive said he could not give any more details about the veracity of the document, which would be sent to Business Panel members as appropriate. The Chair said he was concerned that although they would see the document they might not have an opportunity to put their comments forward prior to the Cabinet decision.
Councillor Curran said that Business Panel wanted to find out about their call-in because of concerns raised about Renewal, the secrecy of its directors and other issues. He said this document should not get in the way of Panel Members’ concerns. Councillor Curran said he thought this document was being used as a smoke screen. Councillor Curran added that LSH’s document was not in the public domain, even though it was apparently similar to an estate agent leaflet. He said he could not understand why the call-in process was being held up because of this document. Councillor Curran stated that the Cabinet should not just be dealing with the veracity of the document, but should also deal with the issues raised in the call-in. The Chief Executive said the Cabinet would deal with that too.
Councillor Curran asked what was being done about the call-in and was told by the Chief Executive that Cabinet had adjourned consideration of the call-in until the investigation had been completed. The Chair asked the Chief Executive if this document could possibly impact on the call-in and was told that it could. The Chair asked the Chief Executive how this could impact on the call-in, and was advised that it would not be wise to speculate on its impact.
The Chair told the Chief Executive that he thought the decision on the document and that of the call-in would be made at the same time and Business Panel would not have an opportunity to make any comment on the contents of the document. The Chief Executive said this could happen. The Chair said Business Panel should be able to see a report on this document whether Cabinet thought it was relevant or irrelevant, as part of the democratic process. The Chair added that Members have a right to officers’ advise, especially given the length of time of the call-in adjournment.
The Chair requested that officers produce a report on the document that led to the suspension of the Business Panel call-in. The Chief Executive said the Council has a judgement to make about the best way forward. Councillor Handley said the uncertainty surrounding this document and call-in seemed very suspicious, and it also highlighted lack of transparency about Renewal and its local backers.
The Chair claimed Business Panel Members had been misled the past, and this concern could be raised again. The Chair said he was very pleased the Chief Executive was able to attend the meeting at short notice, and requested a report following the investigation for consideration by the Business Panel prior to the Cabinet making any determination.
Action >>>>>> CEX, ED Resources and Regen. Head of Law
I. officers provide a briefing for Business Panel about the CPO process.
II. officers provide a report for Business Panel about the document that led to the suspension of their call-in.
III. officers arrange a meeting for Business Panel to receive legal advise about the CPO process.
IV. the minutes of the meeting held on 1 November 2016, which was open to the press and public, be confirmed as a true record of the proceedings.