Wiltshire's 'behind party doors' planning decisions are damaging
4:36pm Wednesday 13th June 2012 in Letters
WHY is it always politics?
To clarify the present controversy about the Northern Planning Committee, at last month’s council meeting I proposed that, in the interests of our new approach to open government that more open procedures should now apply to Planning Meetings.
I asked that the present Northern Area Planning practice of closed party meetings to discuss the agenda, even briefings,before the Planning Meetings should be stopped. In discussion of this proposal several Conservative members voiced support.
However the Leader of the council indicated she did not feel it was needed and it was voted out overwhelmingly by her party.
The reasons why these meetings are not necessary? We have in attendance at the Planning Meetings, the Head of Planning and several planning officers for individual cases, the Highways Department, the Legal Department, and other specialist officers to advise if there is a particularly unusual application. Also, we receive, a week in advance, a complete printed briefing consisting of reports and all information available to do with the applications.
We have an overwhelming fund of information which the public should see being properly used openly in front of them. Why should we continue with closed pre-meetings which the public, of whichever party, must feel could be tainted. A briefing by officers in advance for the chairman only, to help the smooth running of the meeting, is correct, nothing more.
We have an overwhelming fund of information which the public should see being properly used openly in front of them.Wiltshire councillor Bill Douglas
It seems that any suggestion, offered by an opposition party at full council meeting, no matter how good it may be for the public, must be automatically scoffed at and voted down by the majority Conservative Party.
As Cllr Simon Killane, also a Planning Member, said “We need to stand up and say NO to this kind of blatant abuse of party political power. Our stand at these planning meetings is an attempt to just say NO!
WILTSHIRE CLLR BILL DOUGLAS Member of Northern Area Planning Committee