Councillors can address a planning committee even if they have been involved with negotiations prior to the meeting

Whilst this judgment is about a Cabinet member who spoke in favour of the application the ruling seems to make it clear (to us) that this must also apply to ward members, who are currently not allowed to speak.

The judgment said:


The High Court held that the planning committee was made up of experienced councillors who were aware of the need to base their decisions on relevant planning considerations alone. In the absence of an express provision in the council’s constitution preventing attendance any councillor, where there is no disabling personal interest and with the committee’s permission, can attend and address it.

The councillor’s motives in addressing the committee were irrelevant. The relevant issue was the impact on the committee members’ decision. There was no reasonable basis for concluding that the committee would have voted differently in the absence of the councillor’s intervention.

The Court noted that members should be free to express their views as, if they do not, their real reasons for voting may be veiled or unclear. Retrospectively asking individual councillors to explain their voting was ‘deplorable’. The court’s view was that “excessive forensic analysis of political debate has the appearance of fettering the democratic process”.

The missing 6% (?plus) of voters now missing from the EDDC electoral roll

What happens if you don’t register
If you meet the conditions for registering to vote (eg you’re 16 or over and you’re British or a national of an EU or Commonwealth country) and you’re asked to register, you have to do so.

If you don’t, your local Electoral Registration Office could fine you £80. They won’t fine you if you have a valid reason for not registering – eg a long stay in hospital, or you have severe learning difficulties.

So why is the Electoral Registration Officer not doing something about this? Could it be that there is a worry that the missing people may not be majority party voters?

EDDC accounts open to the public for month of July.

This is a quick reminder that the EDDC will be opening its accounts to the public from Tuesday 1st July until 28th July.

For details on red tape procedures please see our link:

For an idea of the summary of the Internal Audit – please see

If East Devon’s population is going up, why has the number of electors gone down (official EDDC figures)

Each year EDDC must publish the total number of electors in the district.  Numbers for 2013 and 2014 show that there were 6,408 fewer electors in 2014 than in 2013.

Electorate: 104,351

Click to access parish_electorate_-_feb_2013.pdf

Electorate: 97,943

Click to access numbers_of_electors_feb14.pdf

Difference: 6,408 fewer electors – despite Cranbrook having come on stream at that time.

Relocation for less than £4 million my a**e!

EDDC has said that relocating its HQ from Knowle to Skypark will involve a total cost of less than £4 million. Remember that any income from the sake of Knowle and Manstone Depot should not be offset against the total cost as the income from that asset sale should benefit the whole of the EDDC community, not just a few councillors and officers who will site themselves nearer to Exeter than any other town in East Devon except Cranbrook..

Here are some recent costs for new council HQ some of which sold off their old HQ:

£11 million:

£7 million:

£10.5 million

£9 million:

£9.7 million:

See some of our CoVoP colleagues on BBC Politics Show this Sunday (29 June, 11a.m.)

As readers of the EDA website will know, campaign groups throughout the country  have created a united Community Voice on Planning organisation (CoVoP). Our Formby branch will take part in in a discussion on Greenbelt and housing, in this weekend’s BBC Politics Show on Sunday morning. Details here:

Information on CoVoP at this link:


Nick Boles says supermarkets make it easier for poor people to buy quality goods

Recent debate in Westminster Hall on town centres and supermarkets differing views of a constituency MP and the Planning Minister:

John Pugh Lib Dem Southport (where Sainsbury’s wants to build an out of town supermarket by demolishing one of their Homebase stores but is refusing to consider an in-town site formerly occupied by a Morrisons store):

… When applying for … permission, supermarkets go armed with persuasive, expert consultants, planners and researchers and can offer a view of the whole retail environment that the council hearing the application cannot really judge for itself, because planning departments are, by and large, severely under resourced. The lack of resources is due to local authority cuts, but planning departments have never been particularly well resourced and are often short of independent data, which costs money. They are also unable to face up to the costs of refusal, leading to an expensive appeal process. Planning departments across the land are hurrying to get housing figures in place, but they are not doing much work, number-crunching or thinking about the retail environments that they often strive to protect.

… Ultimately, planning departments are also vulnerable to what I was going to call “bribery”, although I do not want to use that word because individual bribery is not involved. However, a supermarket wanting to get its way, whatever the effect on the town centre, will normally present its case by suggesting that, due to some attractive agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, something that the council wants, such as a traffic development, can be delivered as part and parcel of a new development. On one side is the threat of an expensive appeal and on the other is the bribe that granting permission may lead to some benefit that the council may not be able to accommodate through its own resources. That is generally what the monitoring of such developments shows..

… The onus is on local town planners and councils to have a positive view of where their town is going, which aligns with what is commercially viable. … To some extent, the problem for councils at the moment is that they are concerned—and the Minister is pleased about this—about finding forward-looking plans apropos housing, but are sometimes leaving retail and the commercial community to sort themselves out. They will not do so to everybody’s satisfaction.

Response by Nick Boles, Planning Minister

… I am firmly of the view that supermarkets have been a powerful force for social and economic good in this country for the past 50 years. I am firmly of the view that people on modest incomes around the country, in his constituency of Southport and in mine of Grantham and Stamford, have the opportunity to buy a range of quality food and other items that were unaffordable or unavailable to all but the very rich when I was growing up, and probably when my hon. Friend was growing up.

Full debate here:

Information Commissioner says most environmental and land information should be on council websites and not subject to charges for it

Cabinet meeting on 2 July: almost half the agenda to be discussed in secret

Never seen so many Cabinet items to be discussed in secret! At this rate the Cabinet will be soon meeting in a secret bunker!

Click to access 020714_cabinet_combined_agenda_-_public_version.pdf

8 items in public, 7 items in secret. Is this a record?

Would the Information Commissioner agree?

Heritage Lottery Fund says parks at risk

Well, we know our council isn’t interested in them (except as housing or supermarket land) as they are trading in their beautiful working environment (so good for mental and physical health) for an HQ between an airport runway, power generatingfacility, call centre and a parcel depot!

Government’s planning policy again under attack

Sir Andrew Motion points out the irreparable damage resulting from the current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), in an article published today:

A30/A303 road widening: consultation in Honiton, 9 July 2-7 pm

A SERIES of exhibitions on improving the A303 is being staged during July by Devon County Council.

They are part of a study into improving the A30/A303 between Honiton and Broadway. The drop-in sessions will set out the progress of the study so far and next steps to improve one of the main arterial routes into the far South West.

The first event takes place on Wednesday, July 9, from 2pm to 7pm at The Beehive in Honiton.

The study is part of a wider campaign, led by Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire and Dorset Councils, as well as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, to lobby and put the case to Government to improve the entire A303/A358/A30 road corridor between Honiton, Taunton and Taunton