Councillor T D Sanderson moved and it was duly seconded by Councillor P D Reeve that –
"This Council wishes to express its disapproval at the events which took place at the Development Management Committee on 16th October 2017.
The Chairman unilaterally varied the published order of business on the Agenda in the knowledge that three members of the Committee were delayed. This action may have led to the granting of planning permission for a major application which had been previously refused by the Committee.
In the interests of public accountability and democratic representation; this Council recommends, in circumstances where Members are expected at a meeting or part of a meeting or where speakers have confirmed their wish to attend and address a meeting, that the Chairman will not have discretion to vary the published order of business on the Agenda.
To enable speakers and Members better opportunity to attend, that the all future meetings of the Development Management Committee begin no earlier than 7pm."
An amendment to the motion was moved by Councillor R Fuller and duly seconded by Councillor G J Bull that –
“there would be value in satisfying ourselves that Development Management Committee procedures are up to date and fit for purpose and therefore propose that a cross party Advisory Group be appointed to commence a review of the operational processes of the Development Management Committee, reporting back to the Development Management Committee. The terms of reference and Members of the Advisory Group will be agreed at the Development Management Committee in January 2018.”
In response to an attempt by Councillor Sanderson to provide further background detail to his proposed motion, the Managing Director referred to a statement that had been prepared by the Monitoring Officer and confirmed that in relation to the events surrounding the Development Management Committee on 16th October 2017 a conduct complaint was currently being investigated. It was therefore not appropriate for the Council to make further comment on this matter at this time. It was important to have regard to the impartiality of the investigation and the need for both the complainants and members concerned to be able to co-operate fully with the Independent Investigator without the matter under considerations being prejudiced by any further discussions at this meeting.
The Chairman exercised his discretion and allowed contributions from Members. Whereupon, Councillor Reeve outlined his support for the original motion, but referred to the amendment to the motion as a positive approach and welcomed the Member led process. In contrast, Councillor M F Shellens suggested that any review was premature whilst the investigation was ongoing.
Councillor D B Dew concurred with Councillor Reeve and suggested that the Development Management procedures had been in place for a number of years and was time for a review. Councillors Ms L A Duffy and Mrs S J Conboy also outlined their support for a cross party working group.
In concluding, Councillor Fuller reported that he anticipated that the review be concluded before the end of the Municipal Year with a view to implementing any changes in the new Council year.
On being put to the vote the amendment was declared to be CARRIED.