Your Councillors


Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Council to the Chairmen of Committees

Minutes:

Questions to the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee

 

Councillor Newton asked the following question of the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee:

 

Will the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee confirm that at the present time the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000 together with its saved objectives and policies remains extant and being used by MBC Planners in determining planning applications or are the DRAFT policies in the DRAFT Local Plan consistently being used ahead of the Public Examination by the Inspector in the determination of planning applications?

 

The Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee replied that:

 

The word “consistently” did not form part of your original question, but I will answer it anyway.  This is a grey area because Maidstone Borough Council’s emerging Local Plan does carry weight in respect of existing planning applications and that weight has increased recently with the submission of this document for Independent Examination by a government Planning Inspector.  However, full weight cannot be given to this document until it has successfully passed Independent Examination (with any associated modifications) and subsequently been adopted by the Council.  In the meantime, the existing Local Plan documents, including the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000, retain weight where they are in conformity with government guidance and policy.

 

So I could say to you that you can interpret that as you wish because as we move forward our draft Plan gains weight, our existing Plan has not gone but it does have to comply with all the planning rules and a lot of those have changed since the original Plan came into force.

 

Councillor Newton asked the following supplementary question of the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee:

 

Although it is claimed that the draft Local Plan is carrying weight has that been written down anywhere because the Local Plan 2000 is written down and I believe it is being skirted over in many planning applications; ENV28 in particular.  Although it is claimed that it is carrying weight do we have documentary evidence from the Inspector that it is carrying weight?

 

The Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee replied that:

 

The answer is that you only have to keep an eye on planning applications up and down the country and what is happening with appeals and what Inspectors are saying and doing.  It is quite clear, if you have been following the situation like Councillor David Burton and I have over the past eighteen months or so, that Inspectors are taking the tack that you have got a Local Plan, it is still extant but carrying less weight if not in conformity with the NPPF and other legislation and that the draft Local Plans that people have are being taken into account to a greater or lesser degree.  That is like all law in this country, a great deal of it is based on results from previous law.

 

Councillor Boughton asked the following question of the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee:

 

With the significant budgetary pressures this Council faces, and following the decision of the Democracy Committee on 7 July 2016 to conduct a review of Borough Council elections every 4 years, would the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee agree that this would deliver a significant saving for the Council?

 

The Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee replied that:

 

Some years ago this was looked at in great detail and I was on the small working group that carried out the review.  I think that what everyone has to bear in mind is that as with everything we do at this Council we have to balance out financial savings with other benefits and disbenefits.  At that time some people believed it would be better to go to a four year system and some believed it would not and the tables were very clearly laid out.  I would hope that when you do your piece of work over the next few weeks or months you have a look at that document.

 

It would be very wrong of me to pre-empt any decision that comes out of the review to be undertaken and I am a little concerned that you as Chairman of the Committee conducting the review seem to have already made up your mind in advance of doing the work that it will deliver a significant saving.  I await the outcome of the review with great interest and I hope that it will be a genuine in depth piece of work looking at every aspect of whether it is or not a good idea to move to four yearly elections.

 

Councillor Boughton asked the following supplementary question of the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee:

 

One could argue that the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee/Leader of the Council has made her own mind up on this issue based on what she has said before, and, as she has said, you have to balance financial considerations with other factors so would the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee/Leader of the Council agree that a continual review is the right way to go about something as important as this for the Borough?

 

The Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee replied that:

 

I do not think I said that you should not review this again.  I said that a review had been done previously and you should take a look at the findings because it might give you a good starting point to see what you need to revisit, what has changed and what has not.  I have not made up my mind, but I do believe that issues other than finance actually enter into the equation.  I await the outcome of your review with interest.

 

 

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