Pendle Conservative Group defeated in first bid to change local planning process

Labour councillors in Pendle have welcomed winning the battle to stop what they described as “ill-thought” planning committee changes being introduced by the ruling Conservative group at Pendle Council full meeting.

The changes, if enacted, would have meant a central planning committee being set up and locally elected councillors being removed from the planning process.

The Tory motion, defeated because two Conservatives were unable to attend the meeting, would have meant changing the council’s constitution.

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Currently area committees, made up of local councillors, comment on planning matters.

Pendle Conservative Group has been defeated in its first attempt to change the planning process at Pendle Council

Leader of the Labour Group, Coun. Asjad Mahmood said: “At the annual council meeting, the Tory leadership with no prior warning nor any public consultation pushed through changes to the council constitution which would have led to locally elected councillors deciding on local planning applications being removed and a central planning committee being forced.

"We said this was wrong and would lead to no democratic accountability by local councillors as planning applications for Barnoldswick would be determined by Colne and Nelson councillors and vice-versa.

"Due to two of their members not attending full council, it meant the Tories were unable to steam-roll their rules for the new planning committee. A sensible proposition to set up a working group of all political parties has been approved which will look at this matter and I hope take into account public feedback.”

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Chairman of Nelson and Brierfield Area Committee, Coun. Naeem Ashraf, added: “I am proud that local people can attend an Area Committee meeting to express their views on planning applications.

"The proposal by the Conservatives would have led to a small group of councillors deciding on planning applications which affect every resident across Pendle, it was wrong and I’m happy common sense has prevailed for the time being.”

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The Conservatie Group has been approached for comment.

Leader Times revealed in May, following the local elections in which the Tories held on to their control, that they were planning changes to the council’s committee system in favour of an “Executive” system of government.

Coun. Mike Goulthorp, deputy leader, said at the time: “The council used to be run this way until five years ago, when it returned to the old-fashioned committee system. This has led to inefficiencies and an increase in meetings, ratcheting up costs and slowing down progress.”