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Arrogant Conservatives refuse transparency on Planning Review

July 5, 2010 8:17 PM

In August 2009 Liberal Democrat Councillors met with senior Council officers concerning the Planning and Development Control department. The Lib Dems submitted evidence that the department was failing to do its job properly resulting in poor decisions and appalling customer care that was badly affecting both residents and Spelthorne's environment.

At the end of that meeting the Lib Dems called for a full inquiry into the department. That call resulted in Trevor Roberts Associates (TRA), Planning Consultants, being appointed to carry out a wide-ranging review into Planning and Development Control.

The TRA report was made public in early 2010 and runs to 215 pages and contains 270 recommendations on how to improve the Planning service. Having led the way the Liberal Democrats welcome this report and the recommendations.

The TRA report and the action plans for implementing the recommendations were submitted to the recent Cabinet meeting for approval.

The Lib Dem position was simple - we wanted the all-party scrutiny committee to oversee this process so that it would be transparent with the strong possibility of involving local residents.

A copy of the letter sent by Cllr Colin Strong is below.

Yet again the Conservative cabinet demonstrated its arrogance. They have totally ignored the all-party Overview & Scrutiny committee. Instead they have established a Leader's Monitoring Group that will, presumably, meet behind closed doors. All appointments to this group are Conservative. No Lib Dem will be involved.

Given the high profile that the Planning service has within our community this is a disgrace. Our Borough requires openness and transparency not secrecy to ensure that residents have confidence in the process to deliver a better Planning service.

Liberal Democrat Councillors will keep you informed.

Download the TRA report here: http://tinyurl.com/25yjeuh

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Copy of the letter sent by Cllr Colin Strong, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition to Cllr John Packman, Conservative Leader of the Council.

Dear John

Cabinet: Item 8g TRA Review

The Liberal Democrat Group fully support the recommendations in the Trevor Roberts report as a first step to improving the Planning and Development Control department. We firmly believe that this review is crucial to delivering the greater customer care and better outcomes that both applicants and residents wish to see.

We are strongly in favour of both the action plans and their subsequent monitoring to be cross-party. To that end we consider that the Overview & Scrutiny committee, within a transparent scrutiny framework, should take the lead with task groups formed for specific areas of work.

The Liberal Democrats believe that where possible interested residents should be able to contribute to this work of the Overview & Scrutiny committee.

The Overview & Scrutiny committee would report to the Cabinet with recommendations.

Should the Cabinet decide to establish a Leader's Monitoring Group outside of the scrutiny framework then the Liberal Democrats have nominated myself as a candidate for membership of the group to preserve cross-party working.

Kind regards

Cllr Colin Strong

Lib Dem, Leader of the Opposition