The motion was: “Openness and transparency in the planning process is vital. This council therefore agrees to include an item on the agenda of all development management committee and planning inspections committee meetings, requiring members of those committees to declare if and who they have been lobbied by, about items on the agenda.”Tomorrow’s agenda item follows a postponement from a scheduled meeting in July.
A paper from the new monitoring officer is included with tomorrow’s agenda, containing much information on the code of conduct and rules governing planning committee members, which the report implicity seems to suggest, are adequate so the motion is not required.
There are no recommendations on a way forward, simply a request to review the information and make a recommendation to cabinet. There is however, an interesting suggestion on page 18 of the papers – about setting up a public central register to record all lobbying approaches received by planning committee members.
This is an excellent suggestion, however, we need to remember that the motion I originally put forward, could quite easily be implemented, by planning committee members simply, as part of the agenda, stating whether or not they had been lobbied, and if so, whether for or against the application.
I see this as a transparency issue and one that in the circumstances of an ongoing police investigation into a former councillor’s planning activities, to be very much in the public interest and also one which will help with trust at the council – at a time when trust is at an all time low.
See two previous debates below –