We seldom agree with the Haslemere Fact Check. However, on the subject of the planning committee changes proposed tonight, we have to agree with its sentiments. These are THE most stupid change of procedure we have ever heard.
Have the Nutters from Planet Zonk taken over ‘Your Waverley?’
Who the hell’s idea was this? President Xi of China?
Report of Director: Transformation & Governance Author: Susan Sale, Executive Head of Legal and Democratic Services and Monitoring Officer Tel: 01483 444022 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Below is the former makeup of the two planning committees. The above is proposed under the arrangements proposed this evening at the first Full Council of the new administration. The two committees below will be abolished. So councillors from Farnham will determine applications in Godalming and Cranleigh, and councillors in Cranleigh will determine applications in Farnham. As you will gather, your Ward member/s – the ones you voted for – can no longer participate in the debate or be permitted to vote. Dumb or what?
The full report for tonight’s meeting is here. This subject starts on page 19.
6 thoughts on “Who came up with this dumb idea?”
I don’t agree with the idea of abandoning “Eastern” and “Western” because it means somebody from Cranleigh (say) having to make a decision on a site in Upper Hale in an area they probably don’t know at all. I don’t think that is helpful at all. I can see a lot of additional site visits being required which entails both staff and councillor time.
However, I think there is merit in the other proposals relating to ward councillors not voting on applications in their wards.
Under the current rules many ward councillors are so petrified of falling foul of the rules against pre-determination that if they are on the Planning Committee they run a mile if you try to even talk to them about a planning application and so it is impossible to have a sensible discussion. Some of this I suspect is down to the way Waverley officers interpret these pre-determination rules (i.e. over-zealous) which puts the fear of something into many councillors, but I doubt that will change.
Currently if a ward councillor has strong feelings about an application either way they can be quite wary of expressing them until mid way through a meeting because of ‘pre-determination’. That’s just nuts.
Then if they can’t see a reason to refuse on planning grounds which means they should vote in favour but they know local public opinion is against it they are put in a really invidious position because they know they will get pilloried in social media if they vote in favour.
So I think letting them express a view at the start of the discussion and then have a right of reply at the end is a good proposal and it might also help reduce the number of decisions going to appeal. So worth a try.
I think this is the most ridiculous idea I have heard. Apart from a site visit (or 10) Ward coucillors from the other side of the Borough do not generally know the area in question or understand the concerns raised by locals with regard to particular Planning Applications. Maybe the ward councillor shouldn’t have a vote, but should still be able to express their views so that bit isn’t bad, But most planning officers (and many Concillors) do Not even know where Alfold is, for instance, as we have heard at various Appeals!
Most of the time Alfold is referred to as Alford, and one member of Surrey County Council told a committee that Alfold isn’t even in Waverley it is in Sussex. Ye Gods, what next!
Removing Ward members from Planning Committee decisions removes critical local knowledge and local democracy. Councillors are elected to represent their ward this is an irrational proposal contrary to the guidance on probity in planning and common sense. Subject the law, statutory guidance and Nolan Principles it is for the councillors to decide their participation within just and efficacious planning processes.
Who wants local accountability, local knowledge, or local democracy and perish the thought that councillors are elected to represent their ward or the residents who rocked up to vote for them, Yet another reason for the electorate to stay at home? What a great pity former Cllr Edmonds, that you are not there tonight to vote against this stupid idea.
As WBC planning is to be run by central Government (M. Gove) it seems a complete waste of time and effort.
It looks and feels like a bad attack of deckchairs on Titanic. The inevitable has occurred and there needs to be some visible activity. Pointless. But, activity nonetheless.