To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).
The Council considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking a review of Planning Committee arrangements and for the Council to confirm whether future approach would include Area Planning Committees or a single Planning Committee.
The report provided background information regarding APCs and the results of a recent review of planning Committees at Maldon undertaken by the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) which included a number of recommendations for consideration by the Council. The recommendations of the PAS were considered by the Council in August 2021. However, the Corporate Governance Audit in July 2022 found that the PAS recommendations were not properly considered and a review of this matter was recommended.
It was noted that there were a number of governance concerns and financial impact relating to APCs and the high level detail of these were detailed in the report.
The Leader of the Council presented the report and put the recommendations set out at section 2.
Prior to consideration of the report the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance highlighted a number of points set out within the report to the Council. It was noted that in reference to the work being undertaken by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (detailed at paragraph 3.8 to the report), no final report or conclusions had yet been brought forward by that Committee. Members were advised that Steve Barker from PAS / Local Government Association (LGA) was in attendance and the Director invited him to explain to the Council the benefits of a single planning committee to not only the Council but Members and District wide. Mr Barker gave a detailed presentation highlighting a number of key benefits and how a single committee would allow Ward Members to become a strong advocate for their residents and represent them at the Committee. Mr Barker also referred to the Council’s appeal performance in his presentation and set out a number of ways the PAS could assist the Council. It was noted that a copy of the presentation had been circulated to Members in advance of the meeting.
Councillor A S Fluker raised a point of
clarity regarding paragraph 3.3 of the report which stated it was a
level legal requirement for all
Members to have reviewed the paper prior to attending a
meeting. He advised of correspondence
between himself and the Monitoring Officer and questioned how this
legal requirement was enforced. In
response the Monitoring Officer advised that the Code of Conduct
did not detail any explicit requirement for Members to read papers
and reminded Members of advice he had previously circulated to
Members regarding this matter.
Councillor R H Siddall proposed that recommendation (ii) be amended to a 15 seat Planning Committee with eight substitutes and should recommendation (ii) fail that this matter be postponed for six months until after the next election. This proposal was duly seconded.
A lengthy debate took place, during which Members raised and debated a number of comments both in favour and against the proposed changes. Particular reference was made to Members representing local residents and how the majority of correspondence received related to Planning.
Councillor P L Spenceley felt that the Parish and Town Councils should be consulted on this and then proposed that a Working Group bet set up to look at the planning decision making process. This proposal was not supported.
Councillor A S Fluker provided some background information regarding planning and proposed that the current arrangements remain. The Chairman advised that he could not make such a proposal as there was an amendment currently being debated.
The Chairman put the proposed amendment in the name of Councillor Siddall and the vote was as follows:
For the recommendation:
Councillors M G Bassenger, Mrs P A Channer, M F L Durham, M R Edwards, Mrs J L Fleming, M S Heard, B B Heubner, N G F Shaughnessy, R H Siddall, E L Stephens, C Swain and Mrs M E Thompson.
Against the recommendation:
Councillors V J Bell, R P F Dewick, A S Fluker, M W Helm, A L Hull, J V Keyes, K M H Lagan, C P Morley, S P Nunn, P L Spenceley, W Stamp, Mrs J C Stilts and S White.
Councillors R G Boyce and N J Skeens.
The Chairman declared that the amendment was therefore not agreed. He then put the recommendations as set out in the report.
Councillor S White proposed that the Council stay with three Area Planning Committees. This proposal was duly seconded. The Chairman advised that this proposal could not be accepted as Members had to vote on the recommendations.
In accordance with Procedure Rule No. 13 (3) Councillor A S Fluker requested a recorded vote.
At this point Councillor Mrs M E Thompson gave notice that should the proposal not be agreed she would be putting a Motion that all planning applications go to one Committee, District Planning. The Chairman advised that he didn’t think she could do that once the vote had been taken an amendment could not be put.
The Chairman advised the Council that it was now voting on the substantive motion, the recommendations as set out in the report.
The Leader of the Council proposed that the Council agree 31 members and a single committee. The Chairman advised that he would not consider any more motions or amendments at this time. He then moved the recommendations as set out in the report and voting was as follows:
For the recommendation:
Councillors Mrs P A Channer, M F L Durham, M S Heard, N G F Shaughnessy, R H Siddall, E L Stephens and Mrs M E Thompson.
Against the recommendation:
Councillors M G Bassenger, V J Bell, R P F Dewick, M R Edwards, Mrs J L Fleming, A S Fluker, M W Helm, B B Heubner, A L Hull, J V Keyes, K M H Lagan, C P Morley, S P Nunn, N J Skeens, P L Spenceley, W Stamp, Mrs J C Stilts and S White.
Councillors R G Boyce and C Swain.
The Motions was therefore lost and the recommendations not agreed.
RESOLVED that no changes be made to the Planning Committee structure.
 Council 22 February 2023