Recommendation could strip councillors of planning vote

Councillors may be stripping of their ability to vote on planning matters if they do not undergo training under proposals put forward by the council’s chief executive.

Tom Crowley, chief executive of Horsham District Council, made nine proposals to the business improvement working group, during a review of the way a planning application for 102 homes in Henfield was handled.

He was asked to report back to the group after members expressed unease at the series of events leading to the appeal.

The proposal read: “Further and regular training for members on planning law and procedures will be arranged and the report to council referred to above will address the question of whether such training should be made a requirement of membership of the development control committees.”

Mr Crowley said: “It was not a lack of understanding but misunderstanding.”

However members expressed their disquiet at what members of the public would make of their elected representative not being able to have a say on planning matters.

Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield), chairman of the working group, said: “Whether it should become a requirement I think it’s a very contentious issue to take away the democratic procedure.”

John Chidlow (Con, Southwater), added: “The electorate understands and assumes ward members will be part of the planning committees. This would be a very serious issue.”

The report will go to the full scrutiny and overview committee in November.