• Leader gives disappointing responses to my questions

    28th February 2013 | News | Claire
  • Question 1On 27 March this council, along with many others, could lose control altogether of being able to determine any planning application using its adopted Local Plan, following the rules set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

    Will the leader be making representations to central government, requesting that this date be deferred by at least a year to allow councils across the country to get their Local Plans up-to-date?

    Written answerThis is a matter affecting all local planning authorities. Government is well aware of this issue.  It has set out its policy in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and our job is to comply with that and to produce our Local Plan.

    My supplementary question
    I note that you say it is our job to comply with the NPPF.  Isn’t it also our job to raise matters of widespread concern of our residents?  I then made reference to the implications of the NPPF which is making its presence felt at Feniton in particular, with the possibility of around 300 houses being approved if all planning proposals currently on the table, are approved – which is quite possible, thanks to the NPPF.

    The answer came back (I didn’t take notes of this) but I think references were made to the Local Plan needing to be finalised asap…. a “no.” 

    It looks like residents will have to fight this one out for themselves, given that EDDC conservative councillors have no intention of lobbying their senior ministers, who are responsible for this mess.

    Question 2 Minute 51 of the Development Management Committee meeting of 5 February concerning the five year land supply relates to a crucially important matter with implications for all members of the council.

    Why is this decision a starred item, which denies the majority of councillors any involvement in the decision?

    The council’s constitution sets out function responsibilities for each committee.  The development management committee’s remit is to exercise on behalf of the council powers and duties within existing policies and practices as a district planning authority (except such maters as are specifically referred to another committee of the council).  This includes development.

    It was fully within the remit of the development management committee to endorse the requirement to secure a six year land supply (5 year land supply plus 20% buffer) and the other decisions with that minute are to agree to note advice and action already being taken.

    My supplementary question
    I understand the starred item system, but why was this item, which is of massive public concern and interest, not subject to debate and a decision by the full council?

    Again, I didn’t take notes, but Cllr Diviani basically dodged the question, just repeating what he had said previously about the committee being within its rights to take the decision. 

    I protested to the chairman, Cllr Peter Halse, that my question was not answered, but he said I had received “an answer.”

    I think we can draw our own conclusions on the steamrollering that took place on 5 February.