Brent Council leader Ann John investigated over Hindu temple claims

Allegations made that Cllr Ann John forced councillors not to vote in favour of house of worship

The leader of Brent Council is being investigated over allegations she forced councillors to vote against a planning application for a Hindu Temple.

According to a leaked email seen by the Times, Cllr Ann John OBE is claimed to have breached planning law by allegedly telling fellow Labour councillors to vote against plans to change the use of Old Union Hall, in Union Road, Wembley, so it could become a Hindu Temple in 2010.

The allegations, which Cllr John has wholeheartedly refuted, are believed to have been made by one of her own party colleagues.

Council rules state that a planning committee should act independently and councillors should make up their own minds about planning applications.

The local authority confirmed it is investigating whether the Councillors’ Code of Conduct may have been breached by Cllr John.

Cllr Daniel Brown, from the opposing Liberal Democrat group, said: “These are serious allegations which strike at the heart of the integrity of the planning process at Brent Council.

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“They must be investigated fully. It is essential that planning matters are handled with integrity and are seen to be so.

“Otherwise the council risks being brought into disrepute and residents will lose confidence in the planning system.”

The Standards Board for England, which monitors standards of conduct among local politicians, said it had no referrals or investigations relating to the matter.

The Brent Planning Code of Practice, which councillors are expected to obey, says decisions should not be influenced by personal or prejudicial interests of councillors or because of an undue pressure by applicants, agents or third parties.

Party political considerations should play not part in the deliberations.

Members of the planning committee should also not make up their mind before hearing and considering all information and should not declare how they intend to vote on an application before the meeting.

When the Time contacted Cllr John for a comment, she said: “This is a load of rubbish and I have nothing to hide.”

A council spokesman added: “An allegation has been made and the council is looking into it.”