Councillors for hire to give planning advice?…
Imagine sitting down with a quiet cup of tea and switching on the television, there on ‘Rogue Traders’ is the face of a colleague from work you know, or thought you knew.
That is how I felt, when on Monday 11th March the lead article in the Daily Telegraph was headed “Councillors for hire to give planning advice”. The article referred to a number of serving Councillors who also operate Planning Consultancy Businesses. It included EDDC Councillor Graham Brown, who represented the Feniton area.
I was shocked to read this article and view the video version online of interviews with undercover Daily Telegraph reporters. Cllr Brown, and others from Local Authorities in Esher and Newcastle were seen to be ‘touting’ their businesses and apparently boasting of their influence over Planning Decisions. I am not clear whether or not this is actually a breach of the Code of Practice, but in any event it flies in the face of ‘natural justice’.
In whatever context, publication or video, such statements attributed to a serving Councillor were reported that morning, I find them totally unacceptable.
“If I turn a green field into an estate, then I’m not doing it for peanuts”, “I’m low-profile, have access to all the right people for the right clients. Don’t come cheap”.
The response from East Devon was quick and decisive. By Monday lunchtime, Mr Brown’s political group had suspended him. Wednesday, EDDC referred the matter to the Police, as an independent body, under the Bribery Act 2010. Thursday, Mr Brown resigned as a Councillor. Friday, as Chair of the East Devon Business Forum.
Integrity in Planning is fundamental to the future of Trinity and the country beyond. As initially presented, doubt would inevitably be cast, by implication, on the integrity of other elected Members and I.
In my relatively short experience since 2009 as a District Council Member, it has been apparent that the vast majority of Councillors, at all levels of Local Government and irrespective of personal political views, devote an enormous amount of time, effort and personal skill to supporting the lives of those we represent, without seeking or receiving favour or financial gain, directly or indirectly.
For the record – Trinity residents and businesses can rest assured….
Planning Applications will continue to be properly considered and determined here, whilst I represent us on East Devon District Council, as I believe they are across East Devon. I have never had cause to question the integrity of the planning process itself, even if I don’t always agree with the outcome!
EDDC Development Management Comm. turns down Knowle application …
Outline planning permission for 50 homes and a graduated care home at East Devon District Council’s Knowle site in Sidmouth has been refused.
Councillors on the council’s Development Management Committee turned down the application, which had been made by East Devon District Council officers. It followed a three-hour meeting, six councillors voted against the application, three in favour.
This was against the Planning Officer’s Recommendation of approval.
EDDC is considering the relocation of its office facilities from The Knowle in Sidmouth, which are unsuitable for a modern business and extremely expensive to heat and maintain. If retained, they need expensive refurbishment and modernisation. The ultimate decision will be based on a full financial analysis and evaluation of all other options for East Devon, Sidmouth or any new location.
A35 Road Closures…
Important news of the closure of the A35, initially overnight on 18th to 23rd March, then again during the day 9th to 18th May. This will inevitably cause major disruption to traffic in the area…
Initial maintenance works will have been completed during March, by the time this magazine is delivered. Further works are planned for May…
Carriageway preparation works will be carried out overnight 9th May to 11th May, followed by surface treatment which will be undertaken on four consecutive 20:00 hrs to 15:30 hrs closures of the A35, on 12th to 15th May and finally three further overnight closures from 8.00pm on 16th to 18th May.
It is expected that by using such closures to allow all the required works to be completed at these times, traffic management along this section of the A35 will be minimised for the remainder of the year.
Uplyme Parish Council opts to produce Neighbourhood Plan…
This is likely to be a major project taking 18 months or so.
An adopted Neighbourhood Plan would be the third, most local, level of planning policy. It will add to and be consistent with the East Devon Local Plan, produced by EDDC.This will be positioned within the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
The Parish Council view is of an opportunity to shape the way the village develops over the next decade or two. Costs (which can be considerable) have to be considered.
I would like to add my personal thanks to Mr & Mrs Dench, who attended a meeting with Parish Cllr Garland, and will be pleased to assist the Parish Council if the project goes ahead.
See – www.trinitymatters.co.uk for full details on each item..…
Cllr Ian Thomas – Trinity Ward, East Devon District Council
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Website : www.trinitymatters.co.uk