Thursday, June 20, 2024

Thurrock UKIP’s housing specialist frustrated over Gloriana questions

Gloriana Homes in Tilbury

A UKIP councillor, with a specialism in housing, has expressed his disappointment at not being able to get his questions on a controversial housing project in Tilbury tabled at a meeting.

Aveley councillor, Luke Spillman, submitted a number of questions to the council regarding the Gloriana project in St Chads.

At the outset, it was hoped that Gloriana would have a large number of affordable dwellings. But due to a number of reasons, that may not be possible.

Cllr Spillman submitted a question for Wednesday night’s meeting (Jan 25th) but this was declined. He then tried on another three occasions. These were also declined.

Cllr Spillman said: “Over the last few weeks I’ve had the legal department at the council repeatedly prevent me from asking questions about the Gloriana fiasco at this month’s full council.

The reason given was that any question will prejudice future planning applications by Gloriana.
Each time I was knocked back I altered the question based upon the reasons that were given for rejecting the previous question and entered a new question.

Attempt 1

‘At the planning committee held on the 15/12/16 Gloriana Ltd entered an application for a Deed of Modification to the s106 legal agreement for planning permission.
The application requested that the existing s106 agreement be varied to delete the obligation to the provision of on-site affordable housing.
If this modification were to be secured can the leader of the council clarify how many ‘affordable homes’ will be available for rent within this development?’

Attempt 2

‘Gloriana appears to have been beset with problems over recent months. Does the leader of the council have confidence that Gloriana is a vehicle capable of delivering affordable housing for the people of Thurrock?’

Attempt 3
‘Gloriana appears to have been beset with problems over recent months. Will the leader of the council be supporting any further loans being made from the council to Gloriana for future developments?’

Attempt 4

‘Can the council leader tell me how many council, housing association and affordable rent homes he predicts will be built in Thurrock during the 2016/17 and 2017/18 municipal years?’

So, YT asked Thurrock Council for their side of the story.

A spokesperson said: “Five questions have been submitted by a councillor for January’s full council meeting relating to Gloriana Limited, however, the first three related specifically to an ongoing planning application which has been part-heard and still pending a decision by the planning committee. For that reason, the questions were rejected.

The planning committee is a quasi-judicial body which means it has powers and procedures which are similar to those of a court of law. It is legally obliged to objectively determine facts, draw conclusions and provide official action. By discussing a specific planning application mid-way through the decision process, it could be considered that members would not hold an unbiased or pre-determined position and subsequent decisions could be vulnerable to appeal and financial penalty.

The fourth question was received outside the deadline and was therefore rejected as per the constitution.

The fifth question, despite containing some factual inaccuracies and being in a format that did not conform to the agreed constitutional rules, was referred to the Mayor with suggested amendments. The amended version addressed the concerns over abuse of process and fair quasi- judicial hearing.

The Mayor indicated that a part of the urgent question or the full text of the amendment suggested by Monitoring Officer would not be objectionable as now drafted, but the matter was not urgent within the accepted criteria and could easily be resubmitted in an appropriate modified form for next Council meeting and therefore refused the request.

In its current form the concern remains that the fifth question would inevitably draw out the same specific application issues that the first three questions would have.

When a question is rejected, it is explained why and independent advice is given to support the resubmission of a question which adheres to the constitution. However, on these occasions, the questioner revised the questions himself which did not address the concerns raised.

“There are no prohibitions on asking questions about Gloriana Limited. The Housing Portfolio Report is due in March and will include references to Gloriana Limited”.

YT understands that cllr Spillman may now ask a question as a point of order.


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