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Islington Tribune - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 7 August 2009
Gunners deal means that we will live by fixture list

• THE Tribune has reported that Islington Council chief executive John Foster has by-passed councillors and compromised the ongoing hearings by the Planning Inspectorate (Gunners in secret deal on coaches, July 31).
If this report is true there is a clear case of abuse of power, which in a democracy (which we still just about are) should lead to an inquiry or to justification and motive.
The local authority has already conceded far too much to Arsenal over street parking for coaches. The original planning consent assumed all coaches would be parked within the stadium.
At a very late stage somebody noticed there was a terrorist problem and the underground area has had to be given over to a very profitable car park for well-heeled season ticket holders – all very reluctantly, of course – no terrorist threat to them!
We shall never know whether there was ever an intention to use the undercroft for coaches, but the coach problem remains with Arsenal. Whether it parks 14 or 18 coaches in Queensland Road, disposing of the remainder is its problem, not ours.
Dumping coaches on the streets not only devalues our houses (a problem Arsenal is trying to avoid in Queensland Road), but seriously disrupts our lives. Cars will need to be removed regardless of vacations, working hours and social arrangements. We will have to live by the fixture list.
Arsenal in this situation is simply another ruthless, unprincipled developer, happy to use its financial muscle to bully a weak local authority into submission and it is already succeeding.
As residents we are powerless. For most, our homes are our only real investment and security. Without the protection of the local authority we can, and will, be swept aside by Arsenal. It’s called capitalism and here it’s at its worst.
Via email

COUNCILLOR Terry Stacy might consider the “agreement” over the issue of Arsenal coach parking as a “good deal” but the way in which this agreement was arrived at raises serious concerns indeed about the conduct of council officers in their dealings with Arsenal over the Queensland Road development.
Councillors are elected by residents and council officers are answerable to the councillors. That council officers undertake dealings which are contrary to the decisions made by councillors in committee is totally unacceptable and undermines the whole notion of democracy.
This is, however, but one example. There have been a number of issues over the last couple of years which have highlighted the “close” relationship between Arsenal and council officers, ranging from issues of play space, building density and access. In most of these dealings the council officers have behaved almost as apologists for Arsenal.
There have been a number of specific examples where officers have chosen (uncertain) projected figures which have been particularly favourable to Arsenal’s case and have effectively dismissed alternative methodologies and numbers.
In other instances, where the officers have dared not to toe the Arsenal line, the club has responded by either threatening to withdraw from the development (although my understanding is that officers have never been given access to the revised detailed figures) or to take the particular issue to a planning inquiry.
Councillors need to take a long hard look at the relationship between their officers and Arsenal. Meanwhile, the whole issue of Queensland Road and of coach parking needs to be brought back to a council committee and subjected to open and wide-ranging debate… without latent threats from Arsenal.

decision of Islington Council’s chief executive to ignore councillors and decide planning policy with other civil servants, specifically regarding Arsenal Football Club, has profound implications for democracy.
He, and other council officers, should remember they are employed by the council to advise and ultimately carry out decisions made by councillors, whether they agree with them or not.
But he has kowtowed to Arsenal’s insistence that it wanted a resolution of its parking problem quickly, instead of going through the usual channels for planning permission. Clearly, Arsenal thinks it is above the rules that apply to other organisations.
Perhaps John Foster, the chief executive, could explain to us mere tenants and residents why anybody should bother to vote in next May’s council elections.
Brecknock Road, N19

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Islington Tribune, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to Deadline for letters is midday Wednesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld . Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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