Council Officers and Councillors investigated in dog track involvement!

Along with many people I have received the email below outlining a potted history of what has been going on with the defunct Walthamstow Greyhound track.  As you can see there is a lot of alleged communication with London and Quadrant and Council officers and Councillors.  I have asked the Councils Chief Executive to investigate the implications of the Councils officers and Cabinet members in this affair.  He has replied that ha has put this into the hands of the Councils Monitoring Officer to investigate.

Email received – ‘Walthamstow Stadium’s ‘Shocking Story’ to date!

1.   The previous owners (Chandler Family) were nearing retirement age and deliberately run down the stadium in order to obtain change of use from leisure to housing as they know that’s how they can obtain optimum selling price. They filter their profits in to their own personal pension funds and do not offer the stadium for sale to the greyhound racing industry. This is part of a calculated plan to make it look as though the business is not viable when the truth is the complete opposite. Commercial builders decline to buy as they know they could not make money on the site.  

2.   L&Q offered encouragement by Waltham Forest Council to buy Walthamstow Stadium (confirmed by Mike Johnson, L&Q Director) presumably on the understanding that the planning application will be dealt with sympathetically (L&Q huge contractors at Waltham Forest). This in itself is completely inappropriate.  

3.   L&Q buy the site, not undertaking correct due diligence and paying multi millions too much of part public money for the site (£18.1M for a viable greyhound stadium). 

4.   L&Q in pre planning discussions with LBWF planning department as far back as May 2007 and acquire an option to buy the site in July 2007. Five months later, Chandler family publicly state that no intention to sell resulting in trainers taking out mortgages for training premises etc. Spring 2008 announcement of sale, track closes August 2008, making 500 people unemployed.  

5.   L&Q embark on a series of lies and deception, suggesting that a planning application will be submitted to LBWF as early as Autumn 2008 and later calling local MPs Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith and Stella Creasy bullies (later withdrawn with apology). These are mere examples and show the unfit behaviour of the RSL.  

6.   L&Q realise they’ve paid too much for the site but still quite happy because they know they have LBWF on side. Examples below from our FOI request which clearly demonstrates an inappropriate relationship :  

>>> Simon Baxter <> 14/07/2011 09:31 >>>
Have you gleaned any more intelligence in respect of this situation?
Simon Baxter

(e mail from Simon Baxter L&Q to David Scourfield- Head of Development Management and Building Control LBWF regarding another local site).  

From: Simon Baxter
Sent: 08 July 2011 17:32
To: ‘David Scourfield’
Subject: RE: Walton House – Meeting with Cllr Jemma Hemsted – 01/07/2011
Thanks for getting back to me.
I do think that a protracted delay could actually create more unwarranted attention than the scheme being heard at committee sooner, ie in August, for the reasons set out in my earlier note.

(e mail from Simon Baxter L&Q to David Scourfield- Head of Development Management and Building Control LBWF regarding another local site).  

E mail chain-Bob Morton to Mike Johnson (L&Q) to Fred Keegan (L&Q) to Steve Yianni (L&Q) to Councillor Marie Pye (Housing LBWF)-Bob Morton’s financial costs sent to L&Q then forwarded to Councillor Pye without Mr Mortons knowledge or agreement.  

Email from Councillor M Pye to Steve Yianni L&Q 12/6/11: ˜Checking if we got anything or any approach from Bob. If not we will issue a statement. Have you asked to meet Boris yet? M. (shows non-neutrality)

E mail from Councillor M Pye to David Scourfield, Shifa Mustafa (LBWF) 12/6/11:

˜Has Bob entered into pre app discussions? Has he even approached us? If not we need a short statement making this clear to go to cllrs, lq and wfguardian and the yellow. David can you please work with Alex to draft something for me to agree by the end of Tues M (shows non-neutrality)  

E mail from  Councillor Terry Wheeler to Council Leader Chris Robbins, Cllr Pye, Stuart Emmerson 7/1/2010:

…˜Whilst it is not a planning matter they (L&Q) should for reputational reasons respond explain why they cannot respond to proposals to preserve the Greyhound Stadium’ (shows non-neutrality).  

E mail from Steve Yianni to Councillor Pye 19/11/2010:

˜ Also we were approached by 2 of the ward councillors about our plans…However I think we just about managed to convince them that it was not viable… (shows non-neutrality).  

7.   SOS announce that L&Qs scheme will make huge losses (£27m plus). LBWF agree with L&Q that this fact can remain hidden in the planning application (first time in history) that is eventually submitted (Autumn 2011). Boris Johnson makes clear that this must be disclosed but, as of now, this has not happened.  

8.   An agreement has seemingly been reached for L&Q to compensate the LPA for the loss of leisure facilities at Walthamstow Stadium by a £1.75m contribution to be used at a nearby Pool and Track facility. Firstly this is an admission that there is insufficient leisure being offered at the Walthamstow Stadium site which should be considered on its own merits. In any event £1.75m is completely inadequate and inappropriate in terms of quantum and function. The pool and track facility is a completely different form of leisure and in no way replaces the Stadium which brought hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from both the Borough and indeed from all round the world. 

9.   GLA and English Heritage criticise L&Qs plans and their hastily withdrawn for revision. The land-banking of the site which is now over 3 years continues with no end in sight.  

10. Council want the Stow site removed from the local heritage site list to make it easier for L&Q to obtain planning permission. When found out this idea is abandoned.    

11. What is known for sure is that the local people simply do not want what L&Q are offering and it is morally corrupt to waste £27m plus of part public money to bail out L&Q when Bob Morton is ready and willing to invest his own private money in this Borough to create the jobs and entertainment venue that this Borough deserves. It is currently a farce with L&Q and LBWF working together to hide the economic reality and to push through L&Qs deeply unpopular plans. 

13. Throughout this tale of public disgrace the two local MPs Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith and Stella Creasy have shone as individuals of courage and integrity. SOS and our resident association partners applaud both individuals and only wish others would match their high standards.  

14.We await the next chapter……

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