Friday, 22 July 2011

Councillor Pat Egan (Woodside Ward): Speech to Haringey Council

Link to read Councillor Solomon's Motion, and the (successful) Amendment, at last Monday's Haringey Council meeting, here

"Councillor Solomon’s reputation as a community activist and campaigner goes way back, to before she joined the Council. It is fair to say that she is noted for her forensic attention to detail, and her ability to deconstruct ambiguous and complex information, and cut to the essence of what is happening. Once she has got into an issue, it is fair to say that no stone will be left unturned.

Cllr Pat Egan
"I am sure there are Planning Officers and Managers of Charitable Trusts who, at the mere mention of Councillor Solomon’s name, 'quake' in their proverbial boots.

"Yet tonight, I am puzzled that Councillor Solomon, with her vast experience, has put her name to this substantive motion. In my opinion, it is inappropriately worded in parts, and is potentially damaging and undermining of our statutory duty as a Council.

"Let me explain:

"As a Local Authority, we have a statutory duty to deal with planning applications in our area. As everybody knows, the mechanism for this is a Planning Committee, which is vested with quasi-judicial authority and power. At some stage, we may hear about Enfield Council passing a motion regarding Pinkham Way. However, the bottom line is that they can pass what they like, because they are not the planning authority, and that duty falls to us, whether we like it or not.

"As Councillors we are privileged to serve our diverse communities, but the flip side of this is that we have a responsibility. If the motion un-amended were passed by the Council, it would be totally irresponsible. We cannot be seen to have pre-determined a potential planning application. 

"Both sides have agreed that the Planning Committee and two substitutes should not take part or vote in this debate, so that the integrity of the Planning Committee is upheld. Yet even by doing this, we may have problems, because as we know, committees do not remain static, and the application may well not come to committee this Municipal year.

"If the motion is passed unamended, we could lose control of the proposed application, and its fate would not be in our hands.

"Councillor Solomon, it is my view that you are being hung out to dry by your colleagues. There appears to be a deliberate attempt to jeopardize the whole legal process, for short-term and, may I say, political gain or kudos.

"As my colleague Councillor Strickland has outlined, it is important that:
  1. There is full transparency
  2. That knowledge and information is clear, shared, and made readily available, and
  3. That the immediate and wider community is fully engaged in the process.

"From what I have heard tonight, I hope colleagues like me are reassured that Councillor Strickland will make sure that this will happen. I urge all members to support our amendment, and the subsequent amended motion."

Councillor Pat Egan (Labour, Woodside Ward)

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