Fringe Box



Letter: Pre-Determination Gagging Issue Goes Back a Decade

Published on: 22 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2016

planning permission 200From Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

I would like to correct the claim made by Mr Paton in The Guildford Dragon NEWS that gagging of councillors on pre-determination of planning applications issue was a conspiracy concocted by former Cllrs Mansbridge and Juneja;  it goes back much further than that. It emerged, alas, in the days when we had a very good chief executive, maybe ten years ago.

It emerged as an overzealous legal interpretation by GBC lawyers which, to be fair, was so widespread in Britain that it became a national concern and thus, in the Localism Bill, was specifically condemned. That was maybe three years ago but no councillor took this is up.

The restriction became so ridiculous that 23 councillors were told to withdraw from council discussions on policy issues which might effect planning decisions. Over zealous lawyers were constantly warning councillors not to get involved in any proposal which might become a planning application.

They can now speak freely, hopefully sensibly, about future applications while remembering that there are planning policies and guidelines which should be followed in committee.

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