To consider the report of the Overview and Scrutiny Working Group, (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the further report of the Overview and Scrutiny Working group together with recommended courses of action for the Committee to consider or scrutinise in further detail should it be considered necessary.
The Chairman introduced the report and summarised the actions taken to date in respect of the item of business. He advised the Committee that this workplan item
derived from a Motion by Councillor A S Fluker which was referred by Council to this Committee. An associated reference from Council in July 2022 on Planning Decision-Making had also been added to the workplan item. He drew Members’ attention to the Committee’s decision at its previous meeting in October 2022 where the Committee had accepted the Working Group’s initial findings/conclusions and had asked for these to be worked up in greater detail for consideration at the next meeting when it was hoped the Committee would be in a position to conclude and make a response and any recommendations to Council or the relevant Committee. He then deferred to the Corporate Governance Project Officer to go through the detail. The Working Group’s submission was at Appendix A to the report.
The Officer reiterated that this was the second time the Committee had reviewed this item and the report in front of them dealt in more detail with the comments from the previous meeting. He referred to section 3.3. of the report that outlined the main conclusions of the Working Group which contained initiatives that could be referred back to Council or the relevant Committee. He drew Members’ attention to the final bullet point around a ‘New Planning Protocol on Planning Decision Making which he felt was a logical conclusion to reach. This would provide an opportunity to bring together all the various documents currently in different parts of the Constitution into one single planning decision-making document that could be referred to Council for adoption and inclusion in the Constitution afresh.
A debate ensued around the initiatives outlined in section 3.3. Some Members emphasised the need to follow protocols and policies and that diagrams would be helpful when presenting detailed information. Other Members felt that more support and guidance was required from Officers regarding the existing Planning Appeals Protocol, an annexe to Planning Guidance document in the Constitution. In response to a query regarding the suggestion of a constitutional break the Officer advised that a ‘Constitutional Break’ would strengthen planning decision-making and provide a rule for the relevant Committee to follow, should the same circumstances arise as outlined in the motion.
Following further discussion where Members outlined their preferred initiatives as listed in section 3.3, Councillor Spenceley proposed the following from the original list be recommended to Council: a review and refresh of the Planning Appeals Protocol; Views and conclusions on Member Training – limited to concentrating on bespoke and specialised training (no references to related committee structure/decision making arrangements), together with a review and improvement of Officer Reports. This was seconded by Councillor Mayes
The Chairman then moved the revised recommendations, taking account of the proposals and issues raised in the debate and they were agreed by assent.
RECOMMENDED that the Council adopts and pursues the following initiatives:
• Review and refresh of the Planning Appeals Protocol;
• Views and conclusions on Member Training – limited to concentrating on bespoke and specialised training (no references to related committee structure/decision making arrangements);
• Review and improvement of Officer Reports