Council agrees to significant change in Member voting rights
Release date: 13 June 2017
Members of Cotswold District Council have agreed today that Ward Members should be able to vote on planning applications in their own Ward.
With immediate effect, Members of the Planning Committee will be able to vote - or make or second propositions and amendments on applications - for planning permissions, listed building consents, conservation area consents and other matters within their own Wards. The same will apply to planning decisions taken by the full Council.
Prior to the decision, Councillors were not allowed to vote on planning applications in their Wards as it was felt that this restriction would enable them to engage more freely on the matters in hand without being fettered by issues of pre-determination, pre-disposition or bias, including allegations that they might be unduly influenced.
However, a joint motion proposed by Cllr David Fowles and Cllr Joe Harris, and seconded by Cllr Robin Hughes and Cllr Patrick Coleman, argued that development control matters tend to generate a lot of local interest and views and have the potential to impact significantly on local communities. With this in mind, they stressed that local Members should participate fully in all aspects of the planning process, representing local views and casting a vote.
Commenting on the change in voting rights, the Leader of CDC, Cllr Mark Annett, said:
“There was a strong argument that the historic practice of not allowing Members to vote on matters within their own Ward is no longer in the best interests of residents – or, indeed, the Members. The vote passed today clearly shows that our Councillors were inclined to go down this path in the knowledge that we will apply adequate safeguards to ensure that they will declare interests and respect common law and guidance regarding issues of predisposition, predetermination, and bias.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at CDC, Cllr Joe Harris, added:
“We were very pleased to vote for this motion as we believe it represents a major step forward regarding the determination of planning matters. It is especially significant because three Liberal Democrat Ward Members within the Chesterton area will now be able to vote on the forthcoming outline planning application for 2,350 homes.”