To continue the media story of “The Marriage Made In Hell” we note “However, Cllr O’Toole disagreed with Cllr Dowling’s argument and said there was no political motivation in the decision, noting that Cllr Adam Yates, also of the Labour party, was due to speak at the meeting”.
He said “Cllr Dowling is incorrect. We always allow members of the public an opportunity to speak at the meetings. They are allowed to speak once, then we can ask questions but if an application is deferred, and Cllr Dowling asked for this to be deferred, he knows full well that he’s not allowed a second bite at the cherry. I was contacted by a senior officer who asked what I wanted to do and I said I’m sticking to the rules because otherwise it would open the floodgates. It’s not a political decision, We’re sticking by the rules for the planning committee”.
Cllr O’Toole pointed to a previous example under his Labour predecessor in which a county councillor was not being allowed to speak for a second time when a controversial mushroom farm application was being considered in Scarisbrick. In that instance, he said, the decision was deferred and the county councillor could not speak at the subsequent meeting. He added “This particular application which Cllr Dowling is opposing, he did speak about last time and when things I think weren’t going his way he asked to be deferred for a site visit which took place on Monday”.
Cllr Dowling raised further issue with that response though, both disagreeing with the interpretation of the rules and arguing that he had not properly addressed the application under consideration. He said “The constitution is clear in allowing ward councillors to speak on items within their ward, there is absolutely no restriction. If the Chair has chosen, at his discretion, to refuse me a speaking slot, then that is his decision and his alone.
“Having no constitutional or legal basis for refusing me, I can only conclude that it is to stick the knife into Labour, or into me personally, neither are acceptable to the residents of Knowsley Ward who elected me to represent them. The Chair was on the committee when I last spoke on this in April, and he knows full well that I solely spoke about the need to defer the item so that members could undertake a full site visit including to a neighbour’s garden to fully assess the impact on their residential amenity”.
Perhaps our elected members, and officers too, might all consider the wisdom of Stanley Milgram who wrote “Obedience is the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purpose. It is the dispositional cement that binds people to systems of authority”.