Brent Council call in police over KRL fraud claims

bktimes

 

 

Lorraine King, News editor Tuesday, November 5, 2013
12:18 PM

Council chiefs have called in the police over claims that emails supporting plans to develop an axed library branch were faked.

The action has been taken after an investigation by Brent Council into the allegations surrounding Kensal Rise Library concluded the case should be referred to detectives.

The council’s IT officers scrutinised the emails including IP addresses which are exclusive to each computer.

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, Brent Council’s lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, is responsible for libraries.

She said: “The council compiled a report after their own investigation and we have handed this over to police.

“Abuse of Brent’s planning system will not be tolerated.

“This has now escalated into a police matter and we await the outcome of the police investigation.”

In September, a council report added strength to claims by campaigners Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) that false statements were made against its fight to retain the Bathurst Road building for community use.

The report stated that when email notifications were sent to everyone who made a statement about the plans on the council’s website 78 were returned as being undelivered with 70 of those belonged to ‘supporters’.

Andrew Gillick, the director of Platinum Revolver Limited which took over the building from owners All Soul’s College in Oxford, hit back with claims that false objections against the application had also been posted on the council’s website.

He had applied for permission to convert the site into six flats, a cottage and a community hub but it was rejected by the council.

Margaret Bailey, chair of FKRL, said: “We applaud the action of our council and it’s willingness to take seriously this attempt to subvert local democracy and mislead the public.

“Our community is strongly against this development for the library building and these fraudulent emails of support for the development were an attempt to divide and denigrate this community.

“Fraud is illegal and we support a thorough investigation by the police.”

Cllr Mashari added: “We must keep our eyes on the end result of securing a community library at Kensal Rise.

“I am ready to work with the community and any stakeholder to ensure that this happens and that it is viable and sustainable.”

Kensal Rise Library was closed alongside Neasden, Tokyngton, Cricklewood, Preston and Barham branches by Brent Council in October 2011 to save £1million.

This article was taken from the Brent and Kilburn Times:

http://www.kilburntimes.co.uk/news/brent_council_call_in_police_over_kensal_rise_library_fraud_claims_1_2966685

 

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Letter of the week in the B&K Times, 31Oct2013

Meg Howarth’s letter of the week to the Brent and Kilburn Times:

Dear Letters Editor,

It’s absolutely proper that no further planning proposal from Andrew Gillick should be considered by the council while its investigation in to claims of fraudulent emails over his original planning application is still underway (Kensal Rise library ‘developer’ accuses Brent Council of ignoring him’, 25 October).

What Mr Gillick should be complaining about is the time it’s taking town hall bosses to complete their inquiry. A report by planning officers more than five weeks ago stated that ‘a large proportion of the supporting emails appear to have been fabricated’ (Brent Council received a ‘high proportion of fake emails supporting Kensal Rise Library development plans, 18 September). It’s in the interests of the Platinum Revolver/Kensal Properties Ltd developer, as well as of those who oppose his plans for the fine Victorian building in Bathurst Road – one of Brent’s few historic sites – that this matter is resolved without further undue delay and the results of the investigation made public. Trust cannot be established on the back of a closed inquiry.
All Souls College, Oxford currently remains the owner of the site and building. A registered charity, it will surely be keen to avoid the embarrassment which could result from completing its sale contract with Mr Gillick before the long shadow of this affair has lifted – just as Brent has the democratic interests of its residents to consider. 

  Sincerely,

Meg Howarth
Islington
Twitter: @howarthm
The letter can be found on page 14 of the digital edition of the Brent and Kilburn Times:

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Letter from All Souls College and comment from FKRL

At the request of Andrew Gillick, the developer who has entered into a binding agreement with All Soul’s College to buy the Kensal Rise Library Building, and with the permission of the College who sent the letter to us dated 10th October 2013,  we are placing a copy of this letter on our web site.

 

While we welcome All Souls College’s indication set out under the second Paragraph of their letter of 10th October 2013, that they have reached agreement with Mr. Gillick  the Developer that, space of  a minimum 1,500 sq feet within the building will be made available for library use, we are somewhat bemused by the reference at Paragraph five of the same letter by All Souls College’s  statement that   “as Senior Land lord, he (i.e Mr. Gillick ) will have final say in the matter”.

 

We would therefore welcome clarification of this somewhat contradictory statement at the earliest opportunity by All Souls College, in particular, as to whether or not they consider their agreement with Mr. Gillick as to the minimum space referred to, to be binding and enforceable by them, as if, as stated by them, the final say rests with the developer, then the agreement referred to by All Souls College would be unenforceable against the developer by them and therefore of no effect or benefit to the Community”

 

Regards,

Margaret Bailey

Letter to Margaret Bailey 10Oct13

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Private Eye magazine, October issue, page 28.

Private Eye logo

Lbrary news from an October issue of Private Eye magazine, page 28.

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Art, Fraud and Boards

Hi Everyone,
1. Celebrate ‘No to Planning Permission!’ with The Walls of Colour at the Pop up Library, Saturday 28th September 10am to 1pm.
To celebrate the refusal by the council to grant planning permission to put flats and a small space for the community in the Kensal Rise Library building  our campaign will be taking part in a Brent wide community art project.
We will have the opportunity to show what this community cares about with art!
The Walls of Colour

A project of orchestrated group oil painting, accessible to all ages and abilities.

Saturday 28th Sept from 10am to 1pm at the Pop Up Library.

The Walls of Colour is a collaborative painting project orgainised by Marion Mainstone & Beatriz Petri.

Works created will be exhibited as part of a large scale display totalling 5 metres sq to be housed in the new Brent Civic Centre, November 2013.

We will have cakes and drinks and will also be able to fill you in on what has been happening with the campaign. Bring cakes to share too.

Bring your arty selves and children and create a community masterpiece.

2. Fraudulent support for the planning application

We are expecting the council to pursue the origins of the fraudulent submissions of support for the planning submission as reported in The Kilburn Times and The Evening Standard last week.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/faked-emails-support-flats-plan-for-library-8829637.html. We have been promised an investigation and report as soon as possible.

Help us to keep up the pressure on the council to find out where this dodgy support comes from by writing to the Leader of the Council and your local councillors asking them to make sure the council makes every effort to find out who is guilty of this fraudulent support. We can’t allow local democracy to be undermined  by such abuse of the consultative processes of the council.

Leader of the Council Muhammed Butt cllr.muhammed.butt@brent.gov.uk

You can contact your local councillors by email:

Kensal Green Ward

Bobby Thomas cllr.bobby.thomas@brent.gov.uk  Claudia Hector cllr.claudia.hector@brent.gov.uk

James Powney  cllr.james.powney@brent.gov.uk

Queens Park Ward

James Denselow cllr.jamesdenselow@brent.gov.uk  Simon Green cllr.simon.green@Brent.gov.uk

Michael Adeyeye  cllr.michaeladeyeye@brent.gov.uk

Brondesbury Park Ward

Barry Cheese cllr.barry.cheese@brent.gov.uk   Mark Cummins cllr.mark.cummins@brent.gov.uk

Carol Shaw cllr.carol.shaw@brent.gov.uk

3. Boards for the campaign.

Daniels Real Estate, who have been long term supporters of the campaign are providing boards for us to promote the campaign and also to display our events. Show your support for the campaign by displaying one of these boards outside your house or flat. They will be the usual estate agent sized boards that are displayed on properties.

If you are willing to have one in your yard please email me at kensalriselibraryusers@hotmail.co.uk

Thank you again for your consistent support and hopefully see you on Saturday.

Regards,

Margaret Bailey

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London Evening Standard 20/9/13 – ‘Faked’ emails support flats plan for library

 evening standard logo
Fraudulent emails have apparently been sent to a London council supporting plans to turn a treasured library into private flats.

Members of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library campaign group — which unsuccessfully fought the closure of the library and five others by Brent council — say they have discovered that false addresses, as well as some of their own, had been used to champion the redevelopment.

The group claim they have evidence that addresses invented or used without consent have been given in online comments and that in one sample alone, 70 out of 78 submissions supporting the development were false.

They say that these have the potential to influence and mislead the public and would have been seen by the council’s planning committee, which will decide if the proposal goes ahead.

Internal correspondence between Brent councillors reveals that they are trying to trace the IP addresses of the online comments. Councillor Roxanne Mashari alerted colleagues to the alleged fake emails. She said: “Abuses of the planning system won’t be tolerated, and the results of our investigations will determine whether or not we involve the police.”

Keith Marks, of Ashburnham Road in Kensal Green, is one of dozens of residents whose addresses were used.

He said: “I was very pissed off. I was brought up here and always used the library as a child — it’s one of the nicest buildings we’ve got in Kensal Rise and it will be such a shame if it gets turned into flats.”

Andrew Gillick, director of Platinum Revolver Ltd and Kensal Properties Ltd, and his agent Nicholas Taylor were unavailable for comment. At last night’s planning committee meeting they said they had no knowledge of the fraudulent submissions.

The Friends of Kensal Rise Library want the building to be retained as a community library.

Taken from the Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/faked-emails-support-flats-plan-for-library-8829637.html

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Planning Committee says no!

Hi Everyone,

Planning Committee Rejects Developer’s Proposal 
The Friends of Kensal Rise Library are very pleased that the planning committee have voted to reject the proposals of the developer.
A pic of a very happy group of library campaigners after the planning committee verdict
 
We are also heartened, as many communities in England will be, that the Asset of Community Value designation helped to protect the building for community use. 
 
We now intend to work with the council to assist in whatever way we can to uncover the source of the fraudulent support for the developer.
 
We are very pleased that the council is taking these instances of fraud seriously and will pursue, with the help of the police, their origin.
 
There are serious implications for local democracy if processes can be abused in this way, and serious consequences for the perpetrator as Fraud by misrepresentation is illegal.
 
Thank you to to those of you who came to the planning meeting last night and those of you who have worked so hard to make sure the proposal of the developer was rejected.
 
Regards,
 
Margaret Bailey
A pic of a confident group of library campaigners before the planning committee sat
Photographs by Allen Samuels.

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September Update

Hi Everyone,

1.      The Chief Planning Officer for Brent Council has recommended refusal of planning permission for the development of Kensal Rise Library. Emoji

His report can be read on the Brent Planning website. Link below.

https://forms.brent.gov.uk/servlet/ep.ext?extId=101150&st=PL&reference=112490

Thank you to all of you that sent in objections about the proposed development.

As well as a submission from the ‘The Friends of Kensal Rise Library’  opposing the planning application we also sent in a petition against the proposal with 1478 signatures of local people and endorsement and support from 54 local organisations and businesses.

Well done to everyone in Kensal Green/Kensal Rise.

 

2.      Planning Committee Site Meeting

Saturday 14th September at 9.50 am at Kensal Rise Library. The Planning Committee will be visiting Kensal Rise Library at this time. At the end of the visit you will be allowed to comment. You may have been sent a letter by the planning committee about this. Caroline will be reading stories for children at the children’s pop up library. Hope to see you all there

 

3.      The Friends of Kensal Rise Library on the advice of the Metroplitan Police have sent a letter to Brent Council to complain about the suspicious statements of support for the proposed development for the library building. They have clear evidence that addresses of residents have been used without their consent and empty buildings and invented addresses have been cited in online comments. These have the potential to influence and mislead the public and the planning department, as well as the planning committee of Brent Council who will decide if the proposal is to go ahead.

These actions are also illegal. Thank you to those of you that have sent letters to the planning department if your address has been used in this way. We will be sending a further batch to the council this week and are looking forward to the results of the investigation that is being conducted by the council. We have also notified All Souls College of our evidence and the investigation being conducted by the council. We would like to thank Cllr Roxanne Mashari for her swift action in organising this investigation, and also the Metropolitan Police for their advice.

 

4.      Planning Committee Meeting Wednesday 18th September at 7pm at the Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley. The Friends of Kensal Rise Library will be represented at this meeting by my Co-Chair David Butcher. There will be other speakers including two from local resident’s associations and whoever has requested permission to speak and also the developer or his agent.

At this meeting the Planning Committee, which is made up of councillors, will decide whether or not to accept the recommendation of the Chief Planning Officer to refuse planning permission for the proposal for the library by Mr Andrew Gillick of Kensal Properties Ltd. We would like to see as many of you as possible at this meeting as it is important that we show how this community feels about the proposed development.

 

5.      Transport to Planning Committee Meeting: We will be organising transport because getting to the Civic Centre and back is a bit awkward from here. A bus will be leaving from the library at 5.45pm on Wednesday 18th September. If you would like to travel on the bus could you please let me know so that I can reserve your place.

 

6.      MA Architecture Exhibition at University of Westminster 35 Marylebone Rd NW1 5LS

Friday 13th September 6.30pm – 9.30pm and continues 14-24th September 9am – 9pm.

Liliya Kovachka who has just completed her MA at Westminster University will be holding an exhibition of her work. Liliya designed and made the brilliant shelves at the pop up library and has invited the entire community to view her project at this exhibition.

Admission is free. Nearest tube Baker St. Thank you Liliya for your continued support.

 

7.      We hope to be organising a One day Literature Festival in late Autumn.

More details on this soon.

 

Many thanks to everyone for your continued support for this very long campaign.

Regards,

Margaret Bailey

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August update

Hi Everyone,
The Kensal Rise Library building needs you now!
There is still time to register an objection to the developer’s planning application to put seven dwellings in the library building.
You can lodge your objection up until 9th September.
Below is the link to the Brent planning website:
 If you object to flats in the library don’t expect your neighbours to do your planning objection for you. You need to go to that Brent Council planning website and lodge in the strongest possible terms your objections to the library building being robbed from this community and turned into flats which will make the developer and All Souls richer than they already are.
The developer is trying to portray his act of providing a small ‘community hub’ as an act of generosity. The terms of his sale agreement with All Souls stipulate that an area has to be set aside for a library.
He is paying the College less for the building because of this agreement.
The developer has submitted his plans for the library building and the decision to approve or not will be made by Brent’s planning committee on 18th September.
If you need any help come to the pop up on the weekend or email me for guidance.
Regards,
Margaret Bailey

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Letter to Councillors from the Friends of Kensal Rise Library – your choice Brent – will you support our community?

Friends of Kensal Rise Library

Registered Charity: 1141606kensalriselibraryusers@hotmail.co.uk

12th August 2013

Dear Councillor

Help us protect and preserve the whole library building for the community

Property developer Andrew Gillick has submitted plans to the Council to put six luxury flats and a ‘cottage’ in the Kensal Rise Library building. The space reserved for the community is too small for the sustainable adult and children’s library and related services that the community wants and needs. In just one month (July), over 1,300 local residents and 50 local organisations and businesses endorsed a petition opposing Mr Gillick’s proposed change from community to residential use.More signatures are added every day.

Voters speak

In a recent survey of local residents, 72% say that losing the library building will “definitely” or “probably” affect their voting intentions at the next General and Local Elections. 58% of respondents say they are less likely to vote for their current Brent Councillors and 39% for their current Brent MP as a result of how matters have so far been handled regarding the library’s closure. Meanwhile, 97% think the actions of Brent Council have been “against the interests of the local community”. (See the attached Survey Summary.)

An opportunity to put fine words into action

Brent Council says it now regrets giving away the building to All Souls College (which, despite profiteering via Mr Gillick, never paid a penny for it, but merely gifted the land on which the community built its library).

The Council says it now wants to put ‘community engagement’ at the heart of its policies.

The Council can prove this by using current legislation to help the community defend its building from being turned into luxury flats.

The Localism Act 2012

This legislation seeks to help communities protect assets that are important, recognising that the closure or sale of local assets can be a real loss to them. The Kensal Rise Library building was listed in December 2012 as an “Asset of Community Value” under the Act. Brent Council listed the entire building and land (not a section of it, as All Souls College requested).

In December 2012, Councillor Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said:

The new legislation gives communities the opportunity to come together and seek to protect land and buildings they consider to be of value for future generations. I have said since becoming Leader that it is important that communities have a voice in these issues. In this instance the criteria of the legislation was met so we have listed the Kensal Rise building”.

What you can do

1. Support our oppositionto granting change of use. How?

You, as one of our elected representatives, can ensure that the Council’s designation of the building as an Asset of Community Value is a ‘material consideration’ when planning officers and committee make a decision about Mr Gillick’s proposal.

Department of Communities and Local Government policy statement on Assets of Community Value says, “The fact that the site is listed may affect planning decisions – it is open to the local planning authority to decide that listing as an asset of community value is a material consideration if an application for change of use is submitted, considering all the circumstances of the case.”

 You are empowered to make that decision.

2. Raise this with Planning Officers.
3. Raise this with the Planning Committee.
4. Raise this with Cllr Muhammed Butt.

Once the building is turned into flats, it is lost to the community forever.

Community Consultation?

Brent planning officers instructed developer Andrew Gillick to “undertake detailed local consultation” in their pre-application planning advice (May 17, 2013). Mr Gillick claims he has consulted with the community, but in April the same year he told us he “did not require any input” from us and that we were “free to support [him] in planning”.

Mr Gillick’s plans for the building are not based on community needs, but on the highest financial return from the sale of flats.

Mr Gillick also refused a request by Cllr Roxanne Mashari to have a consultation with the community before submitting his plans to the Council. He further claims to have consulted with local groups in the community. Who are these groups? Of the more than 1,300 local residents and 50 local businesses and organisations who so far have signed and endorsed our petition, none has been approached by the developer.

Heritage Lottery Fund Encourages Community Use of Whole KRL Building

 Did you know? The Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) have exciting, sustainable plans to retain the whole building for community use. We are ready to buy it. The library will be the key element in a community building offering other services and amenities provided by our community partners. (See attached Business Plan Summary.)

Did you know? FKRL’s plans are endorsed byThe Heritage Lottery Fund. Its London Chair, Wesley Kerr, has urged us to apply for a £250,000 grant when we acquire the building. (Brent is under-represented in Heritage Lottery applications.)

Did you know? Our plans are supported by Locality, the national charity contracted by government to help organisations use the Community Rights: ‘Right to Buy’, ‘Right to Bid’ and ‘Right to Challenge’. It will help us access funds from the Social Investment Business Group and other social investment grants and opportunities – including Community Shares.

Did you know? FKRL’s plans include partnerships with other community organisations, charities and individuals who will share the building and enhance local life. Partners include Into University, which mentors disadvantaged inner city children to achieve academically and Octavia Housing which plans to have outreach services for young people.

Did you know? The space could be used to build arts provision into an area which currently has none. Theatre, film-making, small concerts, art exhibitions, creative writing, comedy are all envisaged by our partnerships (including Brent Artists Register, Willesden Green Library Writers’ Group, Cultured Pearl Theatre Company, De Novo Arts).

Brent Council now has the chance to work with this community and help us defend and protect our community asset.

A building paid for by the community and Andrew Carnegie, not All Souls College.

Once the building goes residential, it is lost to the community forever.

Friends of Kensal Rise Library

 

Click on the following link for the FKRL Business plan summary for a future community KRL building:

BP Summary Aug 8th

Click on the following link for the survey of public attitudes to the closure of Kensal Rise Library:

Public Attitudes To The Closure of Kensal Rise Library 12 August 2013

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