Wednesday, 1 December 2010

How Councils Work Pt 94 etc

The minutes of the last Development Control Committee meeting are out!

This fascinating document details all the latest planning and enforcement decisions the council makes, apart from the boring routine ones of course.

What's interesting in this one is the declarations of interest* at the start. Cllrs Clark (who is also the portfolio holder for neighbourhood regeneration), Gibson, James, Munir and Wood, five of the eleven councillors present at the meeting, all declared the following interest -

"...a personal interest in agenda item 4(c), 15-16 Long Row, (minute 84), as James Mellors of the applicant company was personally known to him and he had accepted hospitality from the applicant in the past..."

and yet this didn't preclude them from speaking or voting because, under the code of conduct, it's not counted as prejudicial.

Mellors has applied to turn the old Midland Bank on Long Row into a Bingo Hall. It's not without objections, mainly based on it being a 'primary shopping frontage' and a suspicion that the bingo will be ancillary to it's intended main moneyspinner, fruit machines. I have absolutely no idea of the merits of these objections but I mention them to show the application wasn't without controversy and yet the committee meeting is packed with the applicant's mates. Four councillors didn't attend, I'm not sure whether that indicates a normal attendance rate.

It probably won't surprise you that the application was approved then. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that.

Ok, so there's nothing unconstitutional about this but does anybody think it's a coincidence that five ruling party members of the planning committee, including an executive member, have been targeted by a large local business for a bit of the old winin' 'n' dinin'? Do these councillors stop and think that it might look a bit dodgy to accept these invitations? You know, for the look of the thing at least?

*Mind you, at least they declared the interests, unlike some *cough* Hassan Ahmed *cough* I could mention, small mercies at least.

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