AT the 12th April Full Council Meeting, Labour-run Ealing Council has chosen to ratify the undemocratic proposals of the new Borough Planner, David Scourfield, and supported by the Labour Leader of the Council, Cllr Julian Bell.
These proposals are as follows:
* Delegated Authority Threshold – this is the level at which planning applications are automatically referred to the publicly viewed planning committee for decision making. The proposal is to refer applications above 50 units compared to 15 previously.
This means that fewer applications will hit the public radar therefore, less public as well as less councillor scrutiny. More decisions behind closed doors. Is this democratic?
* Fewer Planning Committee meetings – the council is moving from a committee meeting every three weeks to once a month, meaning a reduction of a third of such public meetings, less scrutiny, and heavier agendas.
* Site Visit Changes – Furthermore, the planning department also wanted to change the currently advertised Saturday morning site visits to unadvertised Wednesday afternoon visits when most councillors and residents cannot attend. The first step to eliminating this vital part of the planning process. But they retreated on this.
(Original Planning Proposals Report tinyurl.com/CRG-29032016-PlanningProposals)
Conservative Planning Lead, Cllr Joanna Dabrowska is furious and states: “The Council has stated in their correspondence that they consulted with members. As opposition planning lead I don’t recall ever seeing this consultation.
Slowly, slowly it seems that the current administration together with the Council’s planning department are eroding away the fundamentals of democracy and public scrutiny by limiting public access to the decision making processes that elected councillors are elected for.”