Number of councillors sitting on Preston Council’s planning committee to be slashed

A Town Hall committee is to have its numbers slashed, to try to make it more efficient.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 27th April 2015, 7:05 am
IDEA: Coun John Swindells
IDEA: Coun John Swindells

The number of councillors sitting on Preston Council’s planning committee is to be cut from 16 to 12, to try to provide a “more efficient and effective” service.

But objectors claimed it had been “bulldozed through”, without time to discuss it.

Last week’s full council meeting voted to reduce the number of committee members, and to change the meeting’s time and date, by a majority of 32 votes to 13.

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Coun John Swindells, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “One of the real issues with planning committee is the length of time some meetings are taking, and it’s not possible to know how long they are going to take.

“It makes it extremely difficult for councillors who have jobs as well, and the worst thing that could happen is everybody who’s retired ends up on planning committee and there’s no spread of knowledge around.

“So that’s why there’s a proposal to start at 1.30pm and that gives a greater deal of certainty to employers that they will be off in the afternoon.”

He said numbers would also be cut to a “more normal” 12 from 16, with substitutes used for councillors who could not attend.

But Conservative Coun David Hammond, a planning committee member, said: “This has just been bulldozed through without the committee sitting down, as a committee, to say what they want.”

Conservative Coun Lona Smith said: “It is one of the few committees that showcases what we do. We deal with contentious issues, feelings run high, members of the public are there witnessing what goes on and it’s essential we get it right.”

Chairman Brian Rollo said members had been told there would be a discussion at the next meeting, adding: He said: “We’ve got to take the public into consideration in this.”