The council remains split over a protracted application for 102 Henfield homes and the chief executive’s subsequent recommendations.
After reporting to Horsham District Council’s business improvement working group three weeks ago, chief executive Tom Crowley then presented his findings to the full scrutiny and overview committee on Monday.
The report delved into the way an application for 102 homes east of Manor Close in Henfield was handled earlier in 2012, which was successfully appealed by the developer on the grounds of non-determination, and will now proceed.
Recommendation five suggested that members take further training on planning law, and raised the possibility that their membership on the development control committees, which handles planning applications, could be taken away from councillors who do not complete the training.
Jim Rae (Con, Holbrook East) said: “I have no problem with further training providing they’re at sensible times.
“But I would be violently against lack of that training being taken on my part excluding me from my democratic right on planning issues.”
The purpose of the meeting was to note the chief executive’s nine recommendations, but while members seemed anxious to discuss the report in full, chairman of the committee George Cockman (Ind, Steyning) assured councillors they would be able to express their views in full at a later full council meeting.
However Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield), Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham), and Philip Circus (Con, Chanctonbury) expressed their own views on the causes of the lost appeal.
Mr O’Connell, chairman of the business improvement working group, praised the work Mr Crowley had put into the report, but felt they disagreed with the idea of compulsory training for councillors.
“We came to the conclusion we did not think it should be a requirement,” he said.
“This takes away the democratic role of the members.”
Mr Circus thought that focusing on training would seriously misrepresent what happened on the day.
“The most important issue is not training, it’s about site visits and briefing to discuss complicated issues,” he said.
“Training should never be compulsory but it’s obviously desirable.”
Duncan England (Con, Nuthurst) added: “It needs to be there because planning laws and regulations are changing.”