Hall in deep water

Update (23.01.2017): We now understand that a police file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service in order that a charging decision could be made. It has now been concluded that there is insufficient evidence to give rise to a realistic prospect of a conviction – there will be no further action taken by the Metropolitan Police Service in this case.

Update: information is that the police “Advice File” has now been submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to this matter – 30/11/2016


Tory opposition group leader Cllr Hall presented the petition ‘Don’t Force Communities out of Wealdstone’ at the Harrow Council meeting on 25 February 2016.
The petition said that the council plans for a new Civic Centre in Wealdstone at the site of the Peel House car park could force out a community banqueting hall (Premier Banqueting ) etc and undermine local businesses.
Cllr Hall said: “It will damage the entire Wealdstone business community”  (i.e. including her own business in the area as well – therefore, the conflict of interest in presenting and supporting the petition)!
The petition was debated at the council meeting but Cllr Hall who has a shop, business interest, in Wealdstone did not declare the pecuniary interest* and remained present during the debate, despite  that non-declaration of pecuniary interest is a criminal offence. Successful prosecutions can result in a fine of £5000 and disqualification for five years from the local council and from other local authorities (page 24).
{The minutes of the council meeting on 25 February 2016 show that Councillor Hall declared only a non-pecuniary interestitem 4(a) under section 143 of the minutes – and debate was held on the content of the petition submitted by Cllr Hall – 145a (i) (ii)}
(* Agenda of the council meetings give councillors an opportunity to declare an interest early in a meeting. Councillors must abide by the rules of disclosure to declare “disclosable pecuniary interests” (page 23) or “DPIs” that include the councillor’s employment, ownership of land, and business interests while other interests are usually non-pecuniary or personal interests. In the case of the pecuniary interest in an agenda item, a councillor would leave the meeting when that item is discussed to give the public confidence in the council’s decision making)
Alongside Cllr Hall being under police investigation, the implications are:
Since the council had decided to move to Wealdstone and acquire the Premier Banqueting premises (through a commercial deal), does the active protest by Cllr Hall against these decisions and her support for the petition  disadvantage the council in acquiring the premises and negotiating a price – and does all this constitute a breach of the councillors code of conduct that requires the councillors not to endanger council’s interests, including its financial interest.
The politicisation of this matter seemingly made the owner of the Premier House to look somewhere else and now a third party is negotiating with the owners of Premier House, with a view to buying the property.
Therefore, the council could finish up paying far more for the property than whatever was previously negotiated, either in matching the price offered by the new bidder or eventually buying the property from the new buyer – a financial loss to the council in any case (taxpayers money).
Did Cllr Hall fail to safeguard the financial interest of the council in this case – another potential reason for the breach of the councillors code of conduct.