IN RESPONSE to Councillor Bob Wharton's letter of August 21, I wish to respond to several assertions he made, firstly where he asked whether the protestors have a stronger commitment to children's education or their own militant views.

During the protest, school intake numbers in neighbouring primary schools were surprisingly low for the time of year (start of August).

Readers should be aware that though school places have now been filled in all of the schools neighbouring the new pre-academy, questions remain about the catchment area of the new cohort of the reception school intake for the new 60-pupil school and neighbouring schools (i.e. how far children will be travelling and the numbers travelling from further away).

If numbers travelling in from further away are higher, then it betrays the need for why on earth this pre-academy was rushed through to be ready for September 2008.

The Wembley Park Academy has been mired in controversy ever since the previous executive overruled the planning committee's initial rejection of the 1,600 pupil-scheme 18 months ago.

GRASS (GrassRoots Alliance for Social Sports) were the second group of protestors who moved on to the sports ground, resorting to direct action to stop the pitches being dug up because they felt the voice of the community was being ignored by the council.

GRASS was highlighting the way planning approval was rushed through without proper meaningful consultation with users of the sports ground or local residents.

Bob Wharton should know that his own comments in the past that the site is effectively brown field helped foster mistrust between users of the site and the council.

Mr Wharton said that 'time, money and effort has been wasted by protestors'.

Construction work on the site of Wembley Park Sports Ground was delayed by one week; the protestors from GRASS camped on the site and barricaded one of the entrances to the site the day before the initial groundwork was set to begin.

The views of the protestors - some of whom live in the local area - was that the due democratic process which sanctioned the decision to dig up part of the sports ground had been highly unsatisfactory and that the views of users of the sports ground had been ridden over roughshod by the council, and so, as a result, when all reasonable avenues for objection have been denied, then direct action is the only course of action left available for people to voice their objection.

Finally, Mr Wharton is incorrect to assert that football coach Peter Moring had known for a year that the build would be going ahead.

Bearing in mind the planning committee only granted approval on June 3, may I ask Mr Wharton if he assumes that planning decisions in Brent Council are purely a rubberstamping procedure?


Harrow, by email.