LONDON, September 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Serious Questions to be Answered on Advice Given to Elected Members
Following the revelations on Tuesday 13th in national newspapers, including the Guardian, Daily Mail and London Evening Standard, Ministry of Sound - the globally recognised nightclub and dance brand - has today written to the Local Government Ombudsman, to ask her to investigate Southwark Council Officers' handling of two significant planning applications that threaten the future of the club and which are making it impossible for elected Members to properly carry out their duties. Ministry of Sound's concerns have been compounded by the strange events on Tuesday 13th at Southwark Council where Council officials, by their own admission, failed to provide the necessary paperwork for a critical Planning Committee meeting, resulting in one of the applications being pulled from the Agenda with less than 90 minutes' notice being given and Councillors arriving for the meeting with no knowledge that the application had been pulled.
The request relates to allegations that Officers misled and misinformed Councillors and objectors in relation to two planning applications for luxury residential developments close to the club site and also to Ministry of Sound's unease at the number of former Southwark Council officers working for the applicants and how that may impact on a fair hearing and proper process.
If planning permission for these applications goes ahead, the future of Ministry of Sound is placed in jeopardy. Leading legal counsel has advised Ministry that the club would have no defence against a private nuisance claim being pursued by any future resident of these schemes.
The first of the two critical planning applications was pulled at the last minute from Southwark's Planning Committee on Tuesday 13th September. At the time of writing it is anticipated that both applications are now due to be heard on 11th October.
Lohan Presencer, Ministry of Sound Group's CEO says:
"It's ironic that we're fighting for our lives in the very week we should be celebrating our 20th anniversary and when one of our artists is at No. 1 in the album chart.
"We want elected Members, who have a difficult enough job to do, to be given transparent and fair advice on which to base their decisions.
"Ministry of Sound employs over 200 people in Southwark. How can it be right to put these jobs at risk by mishandling an application like this? A complaint to the Ombudsman is the right step because our fundamental issue is with the advice being given to elected Councillors and the way that these applications have been handled.
"One of the property developers told me that 'nightclubs come and go'. Ministry has been here for 20 years and we will fight all the way applications that have been handled in this way - against policy, and jeopardising our future. "
SOURCE Ministry of Sound Group