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Council Planning Committee expanded - but why?

May 23, 2008 6:48 PM

Scaffolding and building blocks.At the Annual General meeting of Spelthorne Council the ruling Conservatives announced that the Planning Committee was being expanded from 13 to 15 members. No reason was given for the change and there was no prior discussion with the Liberal Democrat opposition. The two additional seats will both be filled by Tory Councillors.

As part of the change there will be a new vice-Chairman, Councillor Thomson. He is new to the Planning Committee and replaces the experienced Councillor Jaffer. Liberal Democrat Councillors are at a loss to understand why the Tory grandees have seen fit to give this role to a new committee member when there appear to be many better qualified candidates.

Although there will now be more committee members, one Ward will have no Councillor on the committee. Prior to these changes it was generally taken that each Ward had one of its Councillors on the committee. Once again there has been no explanation from the Tories as to why this change has occurred.

There is no requirement for the ruling group to consult with the opposition on this type of administrative arrangement, but since it would have cost nothing to explain, Liberal Democrat Councillors are at a loss to understand the reasons for the changes.

Some residents are wondering whether the Tories are packing the committee with "yes men" so that they can be extra sure that difficult or contentious applications are passed.