Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Murky waters in East Greenwich?

What exactly is going on with the Casino and the Dome? When we set this site up we never imagined that the Council might become the subject of national scrutiny, but the Deputy Prime Minister appears to have ensured that, and the debacle over the Dome is starting to become as murky as the part of the Thames upon which it sits.

According to today's Evening Standard (Tuesday). AEG, the Dome's owner/developer and Casino running company, have been forging ahead with the building work of the Casino inside the Dome structure even though planning has not been approved for that work, or a license for gambling being given.

As the erstwhile and diligent Indigo at Moody Blue has pointed out to us, the original - and only - planning permission granted for the site does not mention the requirement or building of a casino structure in it (1). In fact, that document outlines many other things that were given permission to be built on the Greenwich Pennisula by the subsidiary company of AEG, Meridian Delta Limited (MDL).

Without us wishing to go over it all again, the allegations against the Deputy Prime Minister are that he somehow smoothed the way so that AEG would secure the license for the casino from the Casino Advisory Panel (CAP). However, if the allegations are true it's fair to say that the scandal posed a problem.

What's interesting is that Indigo may have found what is to be the solution to that problem in the Council's recent submission to the Casino Advisory Panel. In that submission they said:

"only part of the scheme will be developed without the casino – there would be no exhibition space, no theatre, no hotels, and a smaller range of outlets. The full scheme is dependent on the inclusion of the casino as an integral and complementary leisure activity ..." (2)

This clearly contradicts the planning applications of 2003, which made no mention of a casino being essential to their construction. We should also point out that Greenwich Council didn't even have a democratic mandate for its casino proposals until recently when a cross party motion was passed by the Tories and Labour. We've been told that at the time even the Deputy Leader of the Council called gambling a "social evil".

This leads us to ask ourselves two questions. Firstly, why would Greenwich Council wish to obtain advantage by what appears to be deception at the CAP? And secondly, why did the Council leader, Chris Roberts, forge ahead with this scheme without first seeking the democratic mandate of the Council? The only reasons we can think of, are that the answers to both might be linked.

Could the Council have over-egged it's case to ensure that Greenwich is seen to win on the basis of need rather than a guarantee already made at a Texan ranch? What better way to solve the problem facing Mr Prescott on the issue than to give the Casino Advisory panel a fait accompli on it's decision? As to the Council leader's actions, might they just be straight forward ingratiation by a lower politician towards a higher one because of career ambitions (which he undoubtedly has)?

One thing's for sure it seems; we just can't help but feel that this saga at the Dome goes alot higher than the leadership of Greenwich Council.

(1) Greenwich Council Planning Board, 30 October 2003, paragraph 4.2
(2) Casino Advisory Panel Greenwich Answers

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice Wembly have pulled out of the casino race (following Labour's loss of control at the coucil there.)

Increasing the likelihood of the casino coming to Greenwich.

1:21 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

Did I see somewhere a reference to Mr Kerzner has "spread his bets" by being involved with the Glasgow bid, not just the Greenwich bid.

Go, team Glasgow!

Anonymous (12:21) is such a tease - you talk as if London should be allowed to have a thumb on the scales at the Casino Advisory Panel when the Sheffield etc bids are assessed.

3:07 pm  
Blogger Inspector Sands said...

I'm backing Blackpool.

7:43 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home