Committee Switch Provides Problem For Councillors

wesleyan chapel 2A proposal to change the Local Plan sub-committee that would mean the public and some councillors would no longer be able to attend meetings, proved to be a problem at Tuesday’s Planning Meeting.

A report by Senior Infrastructure Manager Craig Dryden proposed changing the current sub-committee into a working party.

Craig said it would speed up the work needed to produce the new Local Plan, an important document that will guide development on the islands for the next decade.

The change was supported by Council Chairman Amanda Martin, who said it would work better and be more efficient.

But Cllr Gordon Bilsborough pointed out that changing the status from a committee would mean the public could no longer attend the meetings.

Gordon said the Local Plan covers a wide range of interests and people affected by it will want to hear the arguments for and against.

He felt keeping out the public wasn’t a good idea if there was nothing to hide.

That view was echoed by Cllr Colin Daly. He said it was “asking for trouble” and there were “bound to be allegations about what went on” in the meetings.

But Cllr Martin said there was “no intention to hide anything from anybody.”

And she said islanders would have plenty of chance to contribute as part of the consultation work.

Craig added that all the recommendations will have to be made public as they’ll have to go through the Planning Committee for approval.

Cllr Fran Grottick pointed out another problem with the proposal. She said it would also mean that councillors who weren’t members of the group wouldn’t be able to attend.

But that created confusion with Cllr Christine Savill claiming they could if they were invited by the Chairman, but not to vote, while Cllr Martin said the rules meant they wouldn’t even be able to sit in the public gallery.

Admin staff at the meeting couldn’t provide a definitive answer.

Cllr Bilsborough said it was, “not democratic to say these members can go and these can’t.”

That brought a swift response from Committee Chairman Gaz O’Neill who replied, “If this committee decides that this is they way it wants to operate then it will be democratic.”

In the end, councillors voted to accept the switch to a working group and an amendment proposed by Colin Daly to allow the public access was defeated.

A proposal by Fran Grottick to allow more members to attend wasn’t even put to the vote because the original proposal had already been passed.

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