New planning rules will cause ‘confusion’ claim

A CONSERVATIVE Group leader has claimed new planning rules in Fife Council will cause chaos.

The local authority has decided to revert to three planning committees but Cllr Dave Dempsey believes the public can expect a “period of confusion”.

For the first time ever a planning application will be represented under the multi-member ward system by two different types of councillor – some who will decide the application and some who will not.

Cllr Dempsey said: “Under the new scheme, councillors who aren’t on a planning committee can take up a cause, write to the press, speak at public meetings, etc.

“However, they can’t “lobby” the councillors on the planning committee. So an email saying ‘turn it down’ is taboo.

“Turning to the planning councillor in a community council meeting and saying ‘it should be turned down, don’t you think?’ is presumably also taboo but what about addressing the same question to the chairperson of the community council? Is that lobbying?

“I don’t know and, when I asked during the debate what the boundaries of lobbying are, the officials present couldn’t immediately say.

“Moreover, there are going to be lots of occasions when councillors campaign for or against applications which their colleagues from the same ward and political party then vote on.

“If they vote in line with the campaign, there are bound to be questions asked, regardless of how proper the conduct is.”

See also page 18