Councillor Ian Beardsmore, on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group, has strongly denied Tory claims that pre-meetings prior to the Planning Committee are open to all members. At no time has any Liberal Democrat member been invited to these meetings nor have they ever been informed that meetings take place.
Councillor Beardsmore has written to the Staines Guardian to set the record straight and is also making a formal Freedom of Information Request to see any minutes of certain meetings. This letter has been written in response to an article in the newspaper which contained the allegation that these meetings were open to all members.
The text of Councillor Beardsmore letter is reproduced below:
To the Editor, Staines Guardian
I have recently seen the front page article in the Jan 8th edition where Planning Committee Vice-Chair Cllr Thomson states that all Councillors are welcome to attend meetings of the planning committee held in secret at some point before the public meeting itself. This is absolutely untrue and I totally refute Cllr Thomson's statement.
Neither I nor any of the Liberal Democrat group have ever attended such pre-meetings. We have never been told when or where they have been held. In fact none of us have ever been told such meetings for All Councillors even exist. This situation is true for all Liberal Democrats who have been on the planning committee for at least the last decade.
Indeed while I suspect such secret pre-meetings have been going on for many years making heaven knows what decisions it is only recently that any mention of them has trickled into the public awareness. The existence of such meetings might explain some of the odd things that have occurred on planning over the years, often leaving residents watching bemused and frustrated. But who knows.
As an immediate response I shall be tabling a Freedom of Information Request. I shall be asking to see the minutes of these pre-meetings in
respect of the following planning applications:
Bridge Street Car Park,
Benwell Day Centre,
Ashford Hospital West Wing,
Ashford Hotel (Junction of A30/Stanwell Road)
Kempton Park Redevelopment.
Cllr Ian Beardsmore
on behalf of The Liberal Democrat group on Spelthorne Borough Council