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Agenda item

Review of the Council’s Planning Code of Practice

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

(a)       That the PCP is fit for purpose regarding the advice relating to the Members’ Code of Conduct, the Protocol on Officer/Member relations, and the procedural advice relating to planning matters, subject to the proposed amendments referred to in paragraph 1.05 of the report, the other amendments shown in tracked changes in the appendix to the report, and the further amendment agreed by County Council; and

 

(b)       That the amended PCP (with the amendments referred to at recommendation (a) above be adopted by the Council.

 

Minutes:

The Chief Officer (Governance) presented a report on the Council’s Planning Code of Practice (PCP).  He explained that as part of the Standards Committee’s role to review operation of the Members’ Code of Conduct and promote and maintain high standards of conduct by Councillors, the PCP was taken to the Committee to ensure  it provided appropriate and clear advice to Members in respect of their conduct in relation to planning matters and to recommend revision to the PCP where it could be improved.  The Standards Committee recommended some amendments to the PCP as detailed in the report and shown in the appendix to the report.   The amendments had been endorsed by the Constitution Committee which recommended the PCP, as amended, be adopted by the Council.

 

Councillor Mike Peers referred to Lobbying and section 5.1 of the PCP and the wording in the final sentence that “Officers should be made aware of any lobbying correspondence Members receive”.   He said that in a number of recent applications, and cited the Penyffordd area in particular, every Member of the Planning Committee had received the same correspondence and attachments, and as a result the Planning department would be sent a significant amount of duplicate information in accordance with the wording of section 5.1.  He suggested that to assist with administration it may be helpful that when correspondence was  sent to all members of the Planning Committee that the Chair of the Committee sent a copy of the lobbying correspondence that all Members had received to the Planning Officer.  .

 

Councillor Peers also referred to section 5.2 of the PCP and the advice that Planning Committee members should avoid campaigning actively in support of a particular outcome.  He said Members may be asked to attend a public meeting in their Ward and the meeting might be advertised as an objection against a particular application.  By attending the meeting there may be an assumption that the Member was also against the application although attendance by the Member was usually to help understanding of the issues raised.  He suggested that with reference to the information in section 5.3 of the PCP, it would be useful if Members were able to make a declaration to Planning officers that they had attended a public meeting against an application in their role as a Ward Member to seek an  understanding around the objections raised.    In agreement with the points raised by Councillor Peers the Chief Officer (Governance) provided advice and agreed to amend the PCP to provide further clarification around campaigning and attendance by Members at public meetings to discuss an application.

 

Councillor Clive Carver commented that there were a number of inconsistencies in section 5 of the PCP in terms of the references made to Members and also to Members of the Planning Committee.   The Chief Officer suggested that as there were no substitutions on the Planning Committee it would be helpful if reference was made to ‘Members of the Planning Committee’ at the beginning of the PCP and the wording was changed to ‘Members’ throughout the remainder of the document which would then be understood to mean Members of the Planning Committee. 

 

Councillor Patrick Heesom thanked the Chief Officer (Governance) and Officers for their work to review the Council’s Planning Code of Practice

 

Councillor David Wisinger moved the recommendation and this was duly seconded.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)       That the PCP is fit for purpose regarding the advice relating to the Members’ Code of Conduct, the Protocol on Officer/Member relations, and the procedural advice relating to planning matters, subject to the proposed amendments referred to in paragraph 1.05 of the report, the other amendments shown in tracked changes in the appendix to the report, and the further amendment agreed by County Council; and

 

(b)       That the amended PCP (with the amendments referred to at recommendation (a) above be adopted by the Council.

 

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