Dispute over ticket rules for planning

Preston Town Hall
Preston Town Hall
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A new ticketing system for Preston Council’s planning committee meetings has been branded a “disgrace” by an opposition councillor.

The local authority has said elected members must now reserve a seat if they wish to attend as part of health and safety requirements.

Councillors speaking on planning applications are automatically allocated a seat.

But Conservative representative Coun Daniel Dewhurst said colleagues often sit in on meetings “to represent their constituents and report back to community groups” even if applications are not directly related to their wards.

He said: “The idea that elected representatives now have to book tickets to attend public council meetings is a disgrace and the latest in a long line of inappropriate policy changes by this Labour run council.

“This move... is not welcomed by constituents or councillors, it goes against the grain of local representation.”

The new regulations come after several planning meetings have drawn bumper crowds.

The latest meeting, held last week, saw dozens of residents turned away as the venue had reached capacity.

A council spokesman said elected members are being asked to register their attendance in advance to manage the capacity limit of the venue.

Meanwhile, residents will be issued with tickets on a first come, first served basis in the 45 minutes prior to the meeting.

They added: “This does not exclude any councillor wishing to attend.

“However, there is a capacity limit set by health and safety which needs to be managed.”