Pendle Tories hit back and say local planning process must change from local area committee system

The Pendle Conservative Group has responded to opposition claims that it was intending to subvert democracy by changing the way the council handles planning applications.

As revealed ealrier this week by Leader Times, the ruling Tory group on Pendle Council was narrowly defeated in a vote to change the local area committees, which currently deal with planning applications, into one dedicated committee, as favoured by neighbouring boroghs.

Labour leader, Coun. Asjad Mahmood outlined his party’s opposition to the changes by saying: "Changing the system 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.”

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However, Tory leader Coun. Nadeem Ahmed, who promised a return to a more executive style of government when the Tories were re-elected to the council in May, hit back at Labour’s claims.

Coun. Ahmed said: “Every single council in Lancashire, and probably the entire country has a planning committee. It is right that planning is not politicised, but decisions are made fairly with regard to the law.

"Were this to happen in Pendle, we would not be losing so many cases at appeal and be being threatened by the Government for having the big decisions taken out of our hands owing to our poor performance.

"The proposed Planning Committee still allowed residents to attend and speak, parish and town councils to attend and speak and was to be made up of 11 trained councillors from across the borough out of the total number of 33."