Councillors Reject Move To Slim Down Planning Committee

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

Council chambers at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

A proposal to trim the number of councillors who can make decisions on planning applications has been rejected.

The Council’s Democratic Review Panel has been looking at how the Authority could streamline its committee structure.

The panel had recommended cutting the number of members on the Planning Committee from all 21 councillors to just 12, including one from each off-island rather than the current 2.

Panel member Cllr Christine Savill said the idea behind the change was to get a smaller number of members who were focussed on the applications. That way members “couldn’t leave it to everyone else” to make decisions, she said.

Council Chairman Amanda Martin agreed with that view. She said it was a committee that “hadn’t always been well understood or attended.”

But several councillors opposed the change.

Cllr Gordon Bilsborough saw no reason to restrict the membership and suggested giving councillors who didn’t want to sit on it an ‘opt out clause.’

And St Agnes councillor, Mollie Peacock had worries about how the off-islands would be represented.

She said in the past, St Agnes had two councillors with very opposing views on how the island should be developed.

She felt both elected members should be allowed to attend to give their islands’ views.

But the proposal was eventually rejected by a sizeable number of councillors. Nine voted to keep things the same, while only four voted for the change.

But other changes to the Planning Committee were accepted. It will now focus purely on planning matters while economic development moves to the new Transport, Development and Infrastructure ‘super-committee.’

Other changes passed by members included merging the Children and Young People Committee with the Children’s Trust Board.

The changes take effect from the new Council year in April.

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