Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex RM17 6SL
Contact: Jenny Shade, Senior Democratic Services Officer Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk
Declaration of Interests
To receive any declaration of interests from Members.
No declarations of interest were made.
The Mayor informed the chamber that five questions to the Leader had been received:
The recording of the questions and responses can be found from the following link:
The Motion, as printed in the agenda was proposed by Councillor Speight and seconded by Councillor Allen. The motion read as follows:
This chamber calls on Thurrock Council to commission a fully independent inquiry into the management and achievements of Thurrock Council’s planning department since 2015 – with its remit to produce a year-by-year performance analysis indicating the number of applications received, the number dealt with by delegation, the number progressed to committee and the number passed or rejected that have been contrary to officer recommendation. The report should produce a subjective judgement on the performance of the planning department over each of those years. In addition the remit will include a full and detailed investigation into how and why the council has not been able to formulate a new local plan over the same period of time.
Councillor Speight presented the motion by expressing his concern of the current state of planning in Thurrock. With simple applications taking up to two years or more to be completed, conflicts between councillors and officers and between councillors and councillors; Legal officers’ advice and attendance at meetings being inadequate; impropriety in the application of many decisions; delays in processing paperwork in particular relating to Section 106 agreements; developers playing the system and smaller businesses, architects and builders failing whilst waiting for planning decisions to be made and that monies had been invested to develop a local plan since 2015. The motion called for an independent review and commended the motion to the chamber.
The following points were made:
· The seconder fully supported the motion.
· There was a general support in favour of the motion.
· It was recognised by members a review of the Planning Committee was required.
· There was concern of how the system was dysfunctional, in some way predetermined.
· It was recognised the Planning Committee required the appropriate support at meetings so that questions could be asked.
· It was recognised there had been delays with producing the local plan and this would be coming forward in November.
· There was an appetite to move this forward and progress.
· At Governance Recovery Board this week the Planning Advisory Service had agreed to carry out a review that would provide a comprehensive health check of core planning functions.
· The Planning Advisory Service would start their investigation in two weeks’ time.
· The Planning Advisory Service would look to what would be required to formulate the local plan.
· The report would be shared and published.
· As part of the review, require a wider consideration of auxiliary issues not just a deep dive of the committee system.
· Concern on motions asking for investigations tended to focus on “what” rather than “why”.
· Member referred to the Best Value Inspection, that it was clear as part of the financial collapse, members had been given reports that were incorrect and inadequate. The Pay Policy report was presented to the general services committee in June to approve a pay policy which was agreed but then overturned in August based on the ... view the full minutes text for item 50.