Investigation launched into Kensal Rise Library fraud claims by campaigners and property developer

The former building that housed Kensal Rise library

The former building that housed Kensal Rise library - Credit: Archant

A feud between library campaigners and a property developer has taken another twist with each side making allegations of fraud.

Children protest about the closure of Kensal Rise Library

Children protest about the closure of Kensal Rise Library - Credit: Archant

Brent Council has launched an investigation following the Friends of Kensal Library’s claims that false statements were made against its fight to retain the Bathurst Road building for community use.

Campaigners believe around 12 statements posted on Brent Council’s website which support developer Andrew Gillick of Platinum Revolver Ltd and his planning application to turn the building into homes and a community hub are not genuine.

Margaret Bailey, chair of the trustees of FKRL, said: “The campaigners believe addresses of residents have been used without their consent and empty buildings and invented addresses have been used in order to influence and mislead the public and the planning committee of Brent Council.

Fay Bradbury, who objects to the plans, is furious.

She said supporting statements using the address of a property divided into three flats she has the freehold on in Kensal Rise were posted online.

But the addresses given did not specify a particular flat.

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“It’s hopelessly vague,” said Mrs Bradbury who said all occupants had confirmed to her they had not posted supporting statements.

“They’ve used our addresses, its fraud. I am furious.”

Tessa Carey, who lives in one of the flats, said: “I feel outraged.

“It’s completely out of order because I am really pro the library, everyone (in the flats) is really upset it is saying we are supporting the developer.”

Cllr Roxanne Mashari, lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said: “The allegations are being taken very seriously.

“I have written to the borough solicitor (Fiona Ledden) who is going to investigate and produce a report.

“If the allegations are true, manipulation of the planning system will not be tolerated.”

On the council’s registration system which enables people to make online comments, Cllr Mashari added: “Once the borough solicitor has produced a report, if there are any loopholes, we will take action.”

But Mr Gillick has hit back with claims that false objections against the application have been posted on the council’s website.

He told the Times: “We made the council aware that many of the objections were fictitious many weeks ago.

“I am confident Brent (Council) have investigated this.

“FKRL, through a vocal minority, are attempting to deny the community of a substantial community facility and in the process are costing Brent council tax payers a small fortune.

“Our strategy is to head to appeal based on planning law and proper development.

“We are confident we will get planning and be awarded substantial costs.

“We own the building and remain committed to this mixed use scheme.”

The council is yet to confirm an investigation took place.

FKRL dispute the ownership of the building and maintain it is legally owned by All Souls College at Oxford University.

Brent Council has recommended the plans for refusal ahead of a planning meeting scheduled for Wednesday (18) where a decision is expected to be made.

The recommendation is welcome news for FKRL who wrote to all Brent councillors, asking them to ensure the ‘asset of community value’ legislation enshrined in the 2011 Localism Act is used when the final decision is made.

Ms Bailey said: “It could go either way.

“I am very glad the officers decided to take the asset of community value into account.

“It’s not just good for us, but for groups all over England.

“They (Brent Council) are to be applauded for it.”