EALING'S representative at the Greater London Authority has written to the Gazette to 'set the record straight' over standards allegations that have engulfed him and the leader of Ealing Council
Dr Onkar Sahota was introduced to Ealing officers by his Labour colleague, council leader Julian Bell, in October to discuss a planning application he wished to submit to make alterations to his home.
The proposal was subsequently recommended for approval by officers but rejected by councillors serving on the planning committee.
UKIP councillor Benjamin Dennehy this week accused Cllr Bell of "seeking to use the weight of his office to bear down on planning officers", and Ealing Conservatives said the Labour leader had a "clear conflict of interest which he chose deliberately to ignore".
Cllr Bell is insisting his "conscience is clear" and has welcomed a standards inquiry to look into the matter.
Dr Sahota, writing to the Gazette, said: "I told Cllr Julian Bell – Leader of Ealing Council - that I intended to submit a planning application to make alterations to my house. I had a meeting with the Director of Built Environment at my house for informal pre-planning advice. Cllr Bell made the introductions and my architect was present to discuss what we were thinking to do to the house. No planning officers were present.
"I did not seek any advantage. As this was a potentially controversial proposal, because I am a local politician, I thought it would be useful to engage early with the council. The application was submitted to the full Planning Committee for consideration and it was turned down, I hope the councillors on the committee judged it purely on planning grounds rather than seeking to gain political advantage – but who knows.
"For a local UKIP councillor to make serious allegations about this case and try and make political capital out of it is unacceptable, but is sadly par for the course."