Issue - meetings
Review of the Council’s Planning Code of Practice
As part of the rolling review of the Constitution, the Standards Committee has recommended updates to the Planning Code of Practice.
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 this report and the other amendments shown in tracked changes in the appendix to this report.
b) That the PCP be reported to full Council with advice from this Committee that it be amended in accordance with recommendation a) above.
The report was introduced by the Deputy Monitoring Officer and provided information on the review undertaken by the Standards Committee of the Council’s Planning Code of Practice (PCP). This document formed part of the Council’s Constitution and covered a range of matters on the Council’s planning functions. It was the responsibility of the Standards Committee to review all protocols within the Constitution to ensure they were current. The recommendations were mainly typographical errors, shown as tracked changes. The first substantive amendment was to replace “the councillor may do” with “the councillor must do” throughout the document. The second amendment was at the new paragraph 4.07 of the Code to outline the Cabinet Members involvement with the Planning Committee and the implications for personal and prejudicial interests.
Councillor Ian Dunbar referred to 5.5 in the report and sought clarification on whether as a local member he should seek advice prior to meeting residents to discuss a planning application where he would be asked to provide advice or respond to questions. In response, the Deputy Monitoring Officer confirmed the principle remained the same that if a Member of the Planning Committee aligned himself with one side as local Member and decided to object to a development then he should not sit as a Member of the Committee but just appear as a local Member.
Councillor Mike Peers asked how member training was recorded for the Planning Committee to ensure vacancies could be filled promptly from all political groups. He suggested it would be prudent for more Members to be trained to sit on the Committee not just as substitutes. He then referred to the amendments made by the Standards Committee and asked if the document should go to the Planning Strategy Group (PSG) prior to County Council in case there were further changes they would like to make. He suggested recommendation number 2 should be amended to say the PCP be reported to the PSG before County Council. In response the Deputy Monitoring Officer agreed it was a good idea for PSG to consider the Code of Practice but this report was part of the Standards Committee’s review on code of conduct issues within the Code of Practice which was why it came to this Committee prior to County Council. He suggested if a separate report to PSG was made to look at other changes it could delay the report going to County Council.
The Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection agreed with Councillor Peers’ comments but said these were minor amendments. He referred to 4.7 in the report which he had personally asked be included to provide clarification for Cabinet Members and Members. There had been no alteration of the Policy but it was up to Committee to decide if there was a requirement for the document to go to PSG prior to County Council.
Councillor Ian Smith asked if Member Training was only carried out in the daytime which would prove difficult for Members who worked like himself. ... view the full minutes text for item 23