CPBC daft New Local Plan vote, who’s In, and who’s Out! Are you represented?

A bit of a controversy has emerged over councillors eligibility to attend the debate on the Castle Point Council’ daft New Local Plan to be held on the 9th December.

Councillors with pecuniary interests are excluded from participating. This leaves Canvey West Ward, where most of the Borough’s development sites are sited, un-represented!

Two mainland councillors, the Leader cllr Riley and cllr Hart, requesting dispensation to participate.

Checking the Castle Point website it appears one of the Canvey West Ward councillors has no declared interests, yet is still excluded.

This lack of representation of residents in some areas of the Borough, it may be argued, gives a poor reflection of residents’ views across the whole Borough!

I have sent the findings of York City Council to Castle Point officers, as York’s interpretation of councillors eligibility to vote on their Local Plan appears different, less rigid than our local authority.

I note that one councillor, an estate agent, someone whose business is likely to directly benefit from housing development, another cllr a school governor whose school would likely benefit from a new access road are among those eligible to vote on CPBC Local Plan.

It strikes me that, as residents are the ones who lose out at times like these, it should be compulsory at Election time that any prospective councillor should legally declare all interests and for these interests to be made known prior to the vote.

That way residents would be aware of any conflict of interest that would prevent a prospective councillor from representing ward residents on matters that they feel are of most importance for them.

After all, finding out now that our councillors are unable to represent us during the Local Plan debate, is of a Fat lot of Use!

CLLRs Riley and Hart’s case for dispensation will be considered on the 8th December by the Review Committee, one member of whom is surprisingly mentioned above!

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4 responses to “CPBC daft New Local Plan vote, who’s In, and who’s Out! Are you represented?

  1. There are 401 sites in the 2013 SHLAA document my house backs on to just 1, a Cllrs interests could change at any time, from moving house, change of employer etc… This could happen pre or post election times and a Local Plan is a once every twenty years . Yes it is important that everyone is represented by their elected representative that’s why the Government Guidence (openness and transparency for Councillor interests ) was issued and York Council interpreted it the same way I do.
    I respect the process and reasons that Cllrs have and declare interests but in the case of a Boroughwide decision like a Local Plan special dispensation should then be be offered, and that is why I have been trying to get special dispensation not just for myself but for all excluded Cllrs.
    I have been told by the monitoring officer that interests are a matter of public perception, and my residents and residents from other wards tell me they want a “Full” Full Council to decide on the local plan not a Part Council.

  2. Editor.
    I have often asked myself what makes a good councillor and clearly there are those who are very much public spirited, some times to the detriment of the own family and social lives.
    I have to say that there are councillors who are politically motivated and would feel that their aspects as to how the council should be run for the betterment of the councils aspirations is understandably by the process of governance.
    However rightly or wrongly it would be easy to conclude that their could be other reasons why people from all walks of life become councillors and seek to look for way in which either there associates, families or themselves can benefit under the banner of “what’s in it for me”.
    The point you make editor will go some way to alleviate this apparent distrust in the whole process.

  3. The Castle Point legal department issued this response to my enquiry:

    “The report for York is specific to York City and relates to a smaller neighbourhood plan and a parish council which presents an entirely different scenario to the major decision to be made by Members regarding the future of this Borough.
    The rules governing member interests are national rules and are not imposed by the Council or myself and over 80% of Members can participate and vote in the council business related to the local plan and the Council is not impeded from transacting its official business.
    I am afraid it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the personal circumstances of a single person but please be assured that any formal guidance or advice which is provided to Members by myself as a statutory officer is accessible in the reports and minutes published by the Council.”

    It may appear that CPBC councillors public declaration of interests is a matter for themselves as to what is made public.
    Have CPBC adopted the correct position on this, appearing to not insist councillors declare every single possible conflicting interest?

    In response to the CPBC legal department message I would suggest that, in this case “size” is not important. There surely must be an obligation on all councils, not just York City or Castle Point Borough, to interpret and apply rules in a correct and consistent fashion. I would also suggest that the CPBC councillors in a position to have their claims for special dispensation should require CPBC to explain why York City, a far larger Authority than Castle Point, have interpreted the Rules incorrectly.
    The likelihood is that during the review into special dispensation, officers will point out that local interpretation is allowed due to the usual vagueness of Government Guidance.

    From the very beginning this attempt at a Local Plan by CPBC was promised to be conducted in an Open and Transparent fashion.
    There remains more questions than answers and confidence in our local authority is somewhat further diminished.

  4. Cllr Bill Sharp

    Please be aware I too have made an application for dispensation as I have no financial interest whatsoever in any of the sites in the SHLAA . Up unlike Cllr hart and Cllr Riley I have not had the courtesy of a personal reply from the Monitoring officer …..

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