Councillors Question Planning Department Budget Figures

Council chambers

Council chambers

Elected members are reviewing fewer planning applications as Council officer’s take on more of the decisions.

Director of Place Craig Dryden told Tuesday’s Planning Committee meeting that his department is now only bringing the most contentious and important applications to councillors.

He said when he first joined the Authority around 95% of all applications had to go to members for a decision, but said this was inefficient and not cost effective.

Cllr Fran Grottick asked why there was such a large increase in staff costs planned over the next two years.

She wanted to know why the Planning staff budget for 2014/15 was almost £60,000 higher than for this year and almost £100,000 in 2015/16.

Cllr Richard McCarthy also questioned the increase, saying that the restructuring process ought to be sending costs “the other way round.”

But Craig said the figures were an estimate and will be subject to change.

He added that there’s a vacancy for a planning officer that has been deferred to save costs, but says the department is facing pressures to recruit a new member of staff.

He’ll be recommending that at the next management meeting.

The authority has been using Cornwall Council planners for some of its work, which Craig said was good value.

Cllr Christine Savill said she still supported employing a new planning officer for the islands, something that she said was legally required.

5 Responses to Councillors Question Planning Department Budget Figures

  1. frangrottick February 1, 2014 at 10:02 am

    It is not just the population numbers that impact on the workload but the responsibilities of a Unitary Authority(many statutory).

  2. LINDY January 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    It is reassuring to read that some of our elected councillors are questioning officers and wanting answers.

  3. moonerish January 30, 2014 at 10:27 am

    So effectively Barry keel done nothing as an interim chief exec apart from waste more money for the Council. I thought the whole point of paying someone (Craig Dryden) £80k+ was to do away with individual officer roles in planning, technical services etc…? There’s only 2000 odd people here for god’s sake! You’ve got plenty of staff to deal with those kind of numbers!

  4. John Hicks January 30, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Sounds fishy to me, i would have thought elected members would want to keep a tight rein on all planning matters themselves……..

  5. Confused January 30, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Mmm? The previous Planning Officer is now the newly created position of Director of Place BUT the Council apparently need a new Planning Officer!