Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cheap Shot Mr Bridgen - You should look to your own party

I was completely astonished when reading this mornings Coalville Times and the story 'MP Bridgen criticises Labours planning rules'.

The article explains our MP is condemning Labour planning rules which meant that three Ashby Councillors (2 Conservatives and 1 Labour) could not take part in two controversial planning committee decision to approve around 400 houses in Ashby.

Mr Bridgen says 'It was the previous Labour government who institued rules which mean councillors who represent a ward are unable to voice opinions on planning applications in their area, as was the case with the Ashby councillors this week.'

All I can say is what misinformed and misleading tosh.

There is absolutely nothing to stop a ward councillor taking part in a decision in their ward unless they have either a prejudicial interest or have predetermined their decision.

We regularly see councillors take part in applications concerning their ward, I am aware of several in recent months alone.

The reason that the three councillors concerned did not take part in the decision was that they acted properly, after taking legal advice, in declaring prejudicial interests.

Certainly in the case of Councillor Sheahan as Chair of Governors at Ashby Ivanhoe School, who would benefit financially from approval of the applications, I believe he acted entirely correctly in withdrawing.

The simple fact is that Planning Committee acts in a quasi-judicial function and what reasonable outside observer would be satisfied that someone who represents an organisation which would benefit significantly from a positive decision could reasonably be expected to be impartial on it.

I would respectfully suggest that if Mr Bridgen wants to make cheap political points on the issue he should look to his own Conservative Councillors.

What our MP doesn't mention is that the plans were approved overwhelmingly by Tories. Labour overwhelmingly voted against them!

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