“You may not be aware, but on Thursday evening, a recommendation came before the planning committee to delegate ALL decisions to a single WLBC employee while the Corona virus pandemic plays out! We found this most objectionable and unnecessary.
“Fortunately, a majority of councillors agreed and saw the danger in such a move. A motion to disregard the recommendation was proposed, and OWL Cllr Jane Thompson was happy to second it. The committee also resolved to explore other ways of working.
“After such a narrow escape, when the time is right, we will be asking how this proposal ended up on the agenda in the first place? Who ever thought this was acceptable to begin with? Checks-and-balances are there for a reason.
“Most routine planning applications are approved by council employees, because they are routine – but it is the contentious ones that are generally put before duly elected councillors, and residents have the opportunity to speak.
“If those councillors get the decision wrong, they are accountable to voters, and may find themselves ‘kicked out’ when elections come.
“Indeed, other parties might highlight the choices made by those councillors – and it might be in the paper. For the large part, Council employees are (quite correctly) shielded from such a level of public scrutiny. Without that scrutiny the checks-and-balances would have been compromised.
“If that person and their team were to get it wrong, and adversely affect your community, there would be no obvious recourse for you and other residents. We stand on a platform of putting residents first and foremost, and we will continue to be vigilant as this international emergency unfolds”.
What caused so much offence at the Planning Committee?
1.0 PURPOSE OF THE REPORT
1.1 To approve an amendment to the Roles and Functions of the Planning Committee, which extends the level of delegation to officers during a pandemic, when the nation are being asked to self-isolate for medical reasons.
2.1 That in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic and in order to reduce social contact, authority be given to the Corporate Director of Place and Community to carry out the Roles and Functions of the Planning Committee (Constitution 4.1), as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, having first taken into account any views expressed by a member of the Planning Committee.
2.2 That the Scheme of Delegation to the Corporate Director of Place and Community at Constitution 4.2B, attached at Appendix 2 to the report, be amended accordingly.
Remember how this became this by delegation?
Elected members and the public should do well to remember the delegation of the “development” of the Beacon Park Golf Course in a “Corporate & Environmental Overview & Scrutiny Committee Members Update 2012/13 provided by Relevant Portfolio Holder Councillor D Sudworth and Mr John Nelson, it was noted that following reports to Cabinet (15th November 2011) and Council (14th December 2011) interim arrangements were put in place with West Lancashire Community Leisure Trust and the trust partners Serco Leisure Operating Limited to undertake temporary arrangement for the management of the golf course. Delegation was approved by Cabinet and Council for the Assistant Director Community Services, in consultation with the Leader and relevant portfolio holder, to enter into and conclude all arrangements for the long-term management arrangements for the golf course.
“The arrangements previously negotiated by DCT for the land drainage work with Oaklands leisure [Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd] provided an opportunity to improve facilities, retain or increase future membership and increase income. Serco have now concluded their discussions with “Oaklands Leisure” and have been able to project a positive financial position in future years. However the initial years of the improvement works will require Serco to cover operating losses”.
It’s a pity that particular delegation didn’t identify the historical VAT fraud records of the DCT Ltd and Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd directors, which has now led to another massive landfill VAT disappearance and presumed fraud perpetrated at Beacon Park Golf Course. Once, even twice bitten, thrice shy?