Author Topic: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?  (Read 8313 times)

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Offline Alex

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Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« on: March 11, 2013, 04:04:31 PM »
Hook Street is back on the developers menu....


Said it would be!!

Apart from the fact that our beloved Council has invited open season to any developer who could possibly want to build anything in Swindon and not be held accountable for it afterwards. 

Tadpole Farm and Redhouse prove that and now we shall reap what we have sown.

and sadly The Labour Party have done nothing to even try to prevent it as they voted en mass for Tadpole.

But, when it is approved Hook Street will finally nail down the coffin on poor old Michael Dickinson.  Mind you he would have had his chips this year if Geoff had still been on the ticket!


It will all be down to what the Officers state.

The track history of ensuring appropriate development with the necessary infrastructure and protection of open and green space is not good.

From my experience , the planning committee would only appear to wake up if they are concerned that the developer states that the cannot afford the S106 contribution.

Otherwise.. they appear to do exactly as the officers tell them.

At this point they are not even brave enough to face the public whom their decisions will impact.

What is the point of the planning committee I wonder?

If this was Strictly Come Dancing.. would they always give a 10?


I seem to have stumbled upon the point of a planning committee : (well the Torygraph has)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9920971/If-I-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-says-Devon-councillor-and-planning-consultant.html

Now if it happens in Devon-  could it be  happening in Swindon?



Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 06:02:35 PM »


Quote

The East Devon Conservative councillor runs a planning consultancy and, although, he is not directly involved in planning decisions, he was clear about what benefits he could bring to a group of overseas investors trying to secure planning approval for large developments around the UK.

“I know, without trying to be clever, I know more than most of the councillors and I know more than most of the officers,” he said."I don't come cheap," the planning consultant added, stating that he was normally paid £80 an hour or between £1000 and £20,000 for a project.

His fees would vary “depending on the viability of the scheme, if we get it, like if I turned a greenfield into a housing estate and I’m earning a developer two or three million, then I ain’t doing it for peanuts… Especially if I’m the difference between winning it and losing it.”

Funny that. 

I bet it's 'within the rules'.

Offline jennyb

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 06:12:06 PM »
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9920971/If-I-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-says-Devon-councillor-and-planning-consultant.html

Read the whole article.

Sad to say I am not surprised by a word of it.

As anyone who has seen the antics and outcomes of our own planning committee or who has read the Local Plan 2026 will have observed , it is not an edifying sight.

Could the business of politics sink much lower?

Everything is for sale ... for 30 pieces of silver?
It takes wisdom to know what you know and wisdom to know what you don't know and when to call in those who do. Often the people who do know will advise that evidence and research are very helpful when making decisions. Who knows it might even save a bit of money.

Offline bobwright

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2013, 06:31:13 PM »
Growing additonal bits of anatomy should make no difference to Planning Decisions. All the members on the committee are meant to act independently and that includes Labour members.

The Labour Group can oppose the development and have done previously however the decision can only be made on planning grounds

Offline Des Moffatt

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2013, 06:45:29 PM »
There has never been a group decision applied to Labour member of the Planning Committee nor will there be.
Labour members have to make the case live at the Planning Committee and nowhere else. It hurts sometimes but it is a price worth paying.
Neither do Swindon Labour members discuss applications with developers. The Council employs professionals at great expense to do that for us.

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2013, 08:45:25 PM »
There has never been a group decision applied to Labour member of the Planning Committee nor will there be.
Labour members have to make the case live at the Planning Committee and nowhere else. It hurts sometimes but it is a price worth paying.
Neither do Swindon Labour members discuss applications with developers. The Council employs professionals at great expense to do that for us.

So as approval is recommended is there any likelihood that anyone will vote against this application?

I understand that Councillor Steve Wakefield is maintaining his position of objection on the grounds of flooding 'down stream' something that he has already had to face in Westlea.

I have to say Bob and Des that I was utterly bemused as the Labour contingent on Planning voted, without exception, for the Tadpole Farm development when there was obviously a strong case to do otherwise.  If I were them I would have voted against it, but either they did not understand the consequences of their decision or did not want to make these an issue?  Either way it is very unsatisfactory and was exactly what was required of them by the administration, if not the electorate.  I hope for better this time and hope they will listen to the local residents who will be affected by the decision taken.

Do not be surprised if there are consequences in the Lydiard ward for the decision made!!  Politicians are supposed to represent the people not to act without being accountable for the consequences of their action or inaction as the case may be.
All my posts are my own opinion and do not represent any political organization or group

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2013, 08:49:49 PM »
There has never been a group decision applied to Labour member of the Planning Committee nor will there be.
Labour members have to make the case live at the Planning Committee and nowhere else. It hurts sometimes but it is a price worth paying.
Neither do Swindon Labour members discuss applications with developers. The Council employs professionals at great expense to do that for us.


Glad to hear it  :)

I have to say: When Da Mellon spent some time talking to the then Cllr Justin Tomlinson and observing JT's and his Mums' (Cllr Vera Tomlinson), it didn't take long for Cllr Tomlinson to talk about holding meetings with one particular developer.  In those days he liked to big-up his dealings with developers, these days he's probably wondering what will crawl out of the closet and bite him in the Westminsters.



See: Tadpole Farm & Cllr Tomlinson (Formerly Known As 'Neeer')

Similarly, we won't quickly forget that Cllr Roderick Bluh was wined and dined by Crest Nicolson, (The Tadpole Farm Developers), not that long before Cllrs Toby Elliot & Emma Faramarzi inexplicably reversed their objection to the 'inappropriate development at Tadpole Farm' (their words, not mine), and became cheerleaders for the development.  Rod Bluh appointed Cllr Elliot to the SBC planning committee and a few days later Cllr Elliot proposed that the Tadpole Farm planning application be approved.

See: FOI Request: Hospitality Provided By Crest Nicolson To Elected Members Of Swindon Borough Council

and: North Swindon Expands Westwards and North Towards Chapel Farm. Part 2


See: Re: Groundbreaking or Farce / Public To Decide Ideal Location For School

excerpt:

Quote from: Geoff Reid
]

Quote from: Cllr Vera Tomlinson

    “I recently saw a plan of Redhouse I believe I was not meant to see - it showed the Medical Centre removed and the land for the Community Centre reduced. I complained, and these have now reappeared on the latest version of the plan.

    I had a meeting with Crest Nicholson recently about Redhouse Village Centre. There were two Crest Nicholson MDs and a lot of other Crest Nicholson people and myself. I asked them to build the Community Centre at their own cost and suggested they donate the land as well - they agreed to this. They have also agreed to put up three signs on the three plots to show that the plots of land are reserved for a Community Centre, a Medical Centre and a Restaurant/Pub. This is really good news for Redhouse.”




Interesting, not least because Cllr Tomlinson (V) had a meeting with no less than two managing Directors of Crest Nicolson, a lot of other Crest people and, (unless her grammar is appalling or she wanted sole credit), just her.  She seemed quite proud about it apparently.

I reckon, having worked so hard to 'secure' these things for the 'excellent' Redhouse residents, neither Cllr or MP Tomlinson will want the area blighted by another Class Solutions non-portable portacabin :)


« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 09:26:28 PM by Geoff Reid »

Offline jennyb

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2013, 10:08:06 PM »
I have observed many planning committees in Swindon.

A councillor can be elected in May of the year and with 1 day's training sit on the planning committee and make decisions which will affect this town for generations to come.

I have observed many members of these planning committees and wonder if they have actually read the material in front of them.

I have listened to members asking questions for which they receive no answers and still they proceed to nod things through.

I have heard Officers present Alice in Wonderland views of traffic from developments and still the members nod things through.

The colour of the rosette is irrelevant.

To be a member of the planning committee should , in my opinion, only come to those with a demonstrable knowledge of local governance, a clear understanding of planning process and the proof that they have read the material on which they are being asked to make decisions.

The fact that you can be elected one week and on the planning committee the next says it all.

I have no idea whether what the Telegraph states is or has happened in Swindon.

All I do know is that a new and better ethos is needed.

It takes wisdom to know what you know and wisdom to know what you don't know and when to call in those who do. Often the people who do know will advise that evidence and research are very helpful when making decisions. Who knows it might even save a bit of money.

Offline komadori

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Re: Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2013, 10:34:33 PM »
To be a member of the planning committee should , in my opinion, only come to those with a demonstrable knowledge of local governance, a clear understanding of planning process and the proof that they have read the material on which they are being asked to make decisions.

The fact that you can be elected one week and on the planning committee the next says it all.
If councillors were restricted to only comment on things where they have demonstrable knowledge, most would never speak again.

I would hope, unrealistically, that all councillors, not just those on the planning committee, would have an understanding of the principles of local governance.

One day's training on planning should be more than enough for them - the planning officers are there to guide them on the more complex stuff. Being too lazy or arrogant to prepare for meetings is deplorable, but all too common, not just among councillors.

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Offline Muggins

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2013, 08:14:09 AM »
Des Quote:  "Neither do Swindon Labour members discuss applications with developers. The Council employs professionals at great expense to do that for us."

Can you make sure that your councillors all of them remember this, especailly the new ones, who may have gone into overdrive at induction, although we know that induction it is essentia, it is often designed to confuse and overload.

Jennyb Quote:  "To be a member of the planning committee should , in my opinion, only come to those with a demonstrable knowledge of local governance, a clear understanding of planning process and the proof that they have read the material on which they are being asked to make decisions."

Here, flipping here couldn't agree more. In the days when they had no allowance and lower expenses we could have had some sympathy with the non reading of doc but these days they get recompense for using some of theri time wisely. I actaull wonder if some of them are asked if they can read  (and disseminate the information gleaned there-in)

Komadori Quote:  One day's training on planning should be more than enough
for them - the planning officers are there to guide them on the more complex stuff.


Couldn't agree less!  Officers may be able to advise them, but an officer will always have keeping his job in mind (not a critisism just being realistic), Yes, officers should guide them, but if they are making a decision it should be informed - from all stakeholders. I have found that there are always some issues, which because they are not direct planning law are sidelined.  As we out here in volunteer land get offered several days on some sort of planning a year, so should they. 

Neighbourhood Planning at present is available to vols, 1 days already done and another later this week, as far as I can establish the councillors have not yet been offered that opportunity. so ther will be some arguments about that sooner or later. 


Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline jennyb

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2013, 09:24:33 AM »
There has never been a group decision applied to Labour member of the Planning Committee nor will there be.
Labour members have to make the case live at the Planning Committee and nowhere else. It hurts sometimes but it is a price worth paying.
Neither do Swindon Labour members discuss applications with developers. The Council employs professionals at great expense to do that for us.

Poor decisions by all political parties affect Swindon for generations to come.

I have watched the planning committee pass both the Croft and Tadpole farm where no clear proposals were put in place for the management of traffic. The labour members of these planning committees were as supine as the rest.

What professionals are employed by the Council, using tax payers money, to talk to the developers? 

The ability to predict the future is phenomenal. Can I have the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup please?
It takes wisdom to know what you know and wisdom to know what you don't know and when to call in those who do. Often the people who do know will advise that evidence and research are very helpful when making decisions. Who knows it might even save a bit of money.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2013, 09:28:38 AM »
I'm fairly sure that some, if not all, developers approach local councillors BEFORE they even approach the council. 

Make of that what you will.

But take the example of a new councillor, with only one days training and no experience, being thus approached.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2013, 09:29:22 AM »
The article in The Daily Telegraph about Councillors helping developers through the planning process must have had many people wondering if this happened around here or indeed if it would happen. I wonder what Rodders is up to?

In various articles in The Adver, after announcing his stepping down from the post of Dear Leader, our Rodders has said many things. Of course he couldn’t praise himself high enough but he also mentioned his need for more money:

Quote
Coun Bluh (Con, Old Town), who will become a public affairs consultant for other councils, says the decision was tough, but he needed more time for his own affairs – and he needs to earn more money for his eventual retirement.


Let's take a look at Rodders latest Linkdin Page:

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/roderick-bluh/b/986/b2

Quote
Consultant
Tristan Fitzgerald Associates
Privately Held; 1-10 employees; Public Relations and Communications industry
March 2013 – Present (1 month) Bristol, United Kingdom
Public Affairs consultant involved with planning matters, community consultation etc


So who are this company that Rodders has got involved with and what do they do?

http://tfa-ltd.co.uk/

Quote
Tristan Fitzgerald Associates is a leading public affairs, community consultation and consultancy practice. Established in 1989, it has worked across a range of sectors promoting development on behalf of landowners, house builders, developers, retailers, private equity and asset management firms, investors, high net worth individuals and family offices.


Now if you read the Tristan Fitzgerald Associates web-site, you will see that they have recently moved their London office closer to the Houses of Parliament, that fine faux-Gothic building beside the Thames that has so much character. There are some however that, possibly because it is moored upriver from and on the opposite side to HMS Belfast, believe it to be the God of all Gravy Boats full of chancers.

So then it looks like Dear Rodders is going to be helping Developers though the planning process. Will he have taxpayer – resident’s best interests in mind? Discuss.

What's it all about?

Offline Mickraker

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2013, 09:39:17 AM »
I will be backing Captain Chris, but I will do an each way if others can hedge their bets why shouldn't I  :-\
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Offline jennyb

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2013, 09:51:35 AM »
Do I recall that Mr Patel ( is he still here?) recently suggested that Wichelstowe would benefit from a partnership with an external consultant in order to come up with some sort of plan to resolve this for Swindon?

I seem to recall the cost mentioned to be in the order of £150,000.

It takes wisdom to know what you know and wisdom to know what you don't know and when to call in those who do. Often the people who do know will advise that evidence and research are very helpful when making decisions. Who knows it might even save a bit of money.

Offline Terry Reynolds

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2013, 10:31:37 AM »
Do the councillors on the committee, say how they will vote, to the ears of the adver then???> :wink: :wink:

Offline Terry Reynolds

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2013, 08:37:21 PM »
the tory councillors from the north of swindon, happy to see tadpole lane dug up for mass housing, voted for the extra 11 houses in cloche way tonight...... :wink: :wink:

Offline Mickraker

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Re: Local Councillors As Planning Consultants?
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2013, 07:27:18 AM »
Copy of an open Letter to Local Government secretary Eric Pickles from Shadow Local Government secretary Hilary Benn

Quote

Rt Hon Eric Pickles
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place
LONDON SW1E 5DU
11 March 2013

Re: Councillors who are paid to lobby on planning matters
I am writing following the report in today's Daily Telegraph about councillors who run or are paid by consultancies to advise developers about planning applications.

I think this highlights a particular loophole in the current system which seems to allow councillors to get paid to lobby for or advise on planning decisions in their own authority. I am not saying that being a councillor should not in itself preclude you from working in lobbying at all, including advising on planning applications going to other authorities, provided their interest is publicly declared. However, I hope you will agree with me that it is not right for a councillor to take on paid consultancy for clients seeking to influence the local authority on which they serve. It is a clear conflict of interest and the rules need to be tightened to stop it happening.

In doing so we should follow the example of Parliament where we already have a rule which bans lobbying for reward. I think the same rule against paid advocacy in their own authority should apply to all locally elected representatives, and I would therefore urge you to take action immediately to bring in a similar rule for local government.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government


Will Eric publish his reply  :-\

Telegraph Eric's comment http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9925903/Planning-investigation-you-may-have-broken-law-councillors-told.html
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