Nobody’s half as good as you.
The night before eastern planning.
Recently ‘Your Waverley’s Eastern Planning meeting revealed some uncharacteristic preparedness from Officers when they defended their report to councillors on an application from The Wey and Arun Canal Trust. Did they have help?
Re: https://waverleyweb.org/2022/03/14/wethey y-arun-canal-v-transport-corridor-on-the-downs-link-continued/
We have never heard a councillor ticked off by a planning officer so publicly. None other than Zac Ellwood, Head Planning, became very arsey with Cllr Martin D’Arcy Bramley’s Green Councillor.
“You have pre-determined the decision because you are reading from your written notes.” he warned.
The chamber then saw some unusual positioning from some of the prominent Councillors. Why?
Someone smelt a rat:
8 thoughts on “Nobody says it better… than the Milford blogger.”
Good morning everyone.
I was present at this meeting myself and as you can imagine it generated some discussion both in the room and afterwards.
As leader (and also also therefore portfolio holder for policy and governance) I wrote to the head of planning that evening and made the following points.
1. I respect his position (though did not agree with it in this instance) and believe it came from a position of good faith and desire to protect the council. I also recognised that it was his duty to raise such issues if he had them and that is only proper for him to do so.
2. I advised that I (and others) thought that the manner of the intervention was less than ideal and further advised that (when he is not in the room) such concerns would be better expressed through one of his team in the room or with the democratic services officer that is clerking the session.
3. I further made the point that all of us take notes in the session when officers are speaking and when public and member comments are being made (I actually type mine during the session myself) and that someone reading from a thing provides zero evidence of predetermination (we could all actually see him writing in the session).
4. Further, I made the point that many members will draft down notes on the report prior to a meeting (especially for long/complex reports and subjects).
5. Some members will even draft during the session what they want to say (so they remember to say it all).
6. I requested that the rules and issues around predetermination and predisposition be picked up again in members training so both sides of this discussion were clear to all involved.
I had subsequently had a very sensible and productive email conversation with the Head of Planning and then one in person and I gather he had a similar discussion with Cllr D’arcy where he also apologised for the manner of the intervention. From my point of view I consider the matter entirely closed unless other members wish to take it separately and I do actually want to thank the Head of Planning for the way that he engaged with this. It is how a good member-officer discussion should be.
Hope that helps 🙂
Cllr Paul Follows
Leader, Waverley Borough Council
Yes, your explanation was full and concise, and we believe you will have satisfied many residents who raised their concerns. Thank you for taking the time to respond.
I was also present that evening and I had a bird’s eye view from the highest row in the public gallery…
So what Zac Ellwood couldn’t see, and couldn’t have known, was that Martin D’Arcy, who was almost in front and below me, was making handwritten notes as he went along and listened to others ….
The tension between the planning officers and the administration has been obvious for some time. It’s hardly surprising given the political pressure which has been put on the officers, who have only been trying to do their job.
Having recently moved to a lovely village in Suffolk (Long Melford) I have been astonished at the way the 2 local Councils are run. The is a good mix of representation, both executives have members from all parties and seem to be run by agreement rather than antagonism and party politics. They recognize that they are local politicians there to do what is good for their constituents. Money has been saved by sharing offices and admin staff but retaining their own planning officers etc. The local villages have no parking charges resulting in thriving small shopping areas and our Council Tax has been raised by only 2%. Local Government should not be combative or run like a mini version of Parliament with constant insults being thrown but by working together, it certainly works here and should be replicated there.
Probably just worth my reminding readers that we did suggest to the Tories that a full cross party alliance could work and they declined – hence why ALL the other parties at Waverley except them have put their differences aside and work together (the executive has councillors from four different parties on it).
As to sharing offices and admin staff etc, that is also what we are pursuing.
Sadly, here in Waverley, the Tories have never been able to accept relinquishing control, and sadly, they never will. The Conservative Group was offered places on the executive but turned them down. WW couldn’t agree with you more. Every councillor should consider our welfare, council taxpayers, and work to make Waverley a great place to live and work and help businesses survive and thrive. In other words – work together for the common good. Waverley, under this administration, has been doing some of the things you suggest, and we believe there may be many more cost-saving plans for the future. However, we sometimes wonder if the aspirations of Waverley residents is considerably more than in some other parts of the country.
Sadly I remember only too well how the Tories behaved in office and they haven’t changed much now they are in opposition. Uphill battle for WBC. Their contempt for others still continues.