Scrutiny, scrutiny, scrutiny

“The Department for Communities & Local Government has been urged to develop a closer relationship with councils to better mitigate the risks of service failures that led to Whitehall interventions in Rotherham and Tower Hamlets. …
… The interventions should highlight to councils the need to ensure that proper checks and balances and scrutiny arrangements are in place to drive a culture of transparency and continuous improvement, the review also concluded. Whitehall should consider additional oversight measures for councils exiting from interventions, such as the phased withdrawal of commissioners, assurances from external auditors or monitoring by other councils.” …

http://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2016/08/dclg-and-councils-should-collaborate-avoid-service-failure-say-mps

“Councillors have no power”

“Sick of seeing Falmouth planning decisions overturned by centralised bodies with no local knowledge, one woman has launched a campaign to change the “undemocratic” planning process.

Kathryn Philpott has been spurred on to launch her petition, ‘Give Our Councils The Power To Make A Decision,’ after plans for Bosvale in Falmouth went to appeal at the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, and plans for 94 homes at Poolfield in Budock were granted on appeal. Both had been refused permission by Cornwall Council following objections from Falmouth Town Council.

She said: “I think the most important thing I have realised is that our council has no real authority.

“Right through the county people are up in arms because their local councillors have got no power to stop building on inappropriate places.

“An issue for everyone here is that they have just passed out of county permission to build on the fields leading up to Budock Church. A stunningly beautiful area.

“It was taken off our council and taken out of county for the decision.”

She added: “Can someone tell me why we have a democratic vote to elect our counsellors to work on our behalf, protecting our county, as every time a planning issue arises and is turned down it immediately goes out of our county to a person or persons that know nothing about the wishes of the general public.

“We seem to have a democracy that is ill equipped to stand up for us. In fact it is very undemocratic to take a decision of this magnitude and sweep over our local council rendering them powerless.”

Kathryn has also said that having a Neighbourhood Plan in place would prevent developers “building everywhere” – a process which is already underway.

She is concerned that current developments pay no heed to problems like drainage and sewage, or to local amenity and open space.

But she is also worried that developers are rushing to get their planning applications in now, before Falmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan comes into effect, with designated areas for housing or other development, as well as areas that cannot be built on.

She said: “People are frantically putting their applications in because they want to get in before the Neighbourhood Plan comes into place, because that will be the end of this building.”

Kathryn wants appeals to go back to Cornwall Council for reconsideration rather than to the Planning Inspectorate, and is petitioning the government to give local councils the final say on planning decisions, not just in Cornwall but nationwide.

She needs 100,000 signatures if she is to hope to have the issue debated in parliament, and so needs her petition to circulate much further than Falmouth, although she has started a physical petition at Boslowick Garage for those without access to the internet.

She said: “Now is he time if people want to act. Now is their chance, but they have got to stand up and say, it’s people power.”

To sign the petition go to: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/give-our-councils-the-power-to-make-a-decision

http://m.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/14687745.Falmouth_campaigner_wants_to_bring_planning_power_back_to_local_people/?ref=fbshr

Junk food lobbyists meet ministers more than 40 times

Why were the new obesity regulations watered down?

“Food industry lobbyists met health ministers 40 times before the Government issued its ‘watered-down’ obesity strategy, official records reveal.
Experts last night accused the Government of caving in to industry pressure – and warned that child obesity will continue to boom as a result. …

… In the past two years, former public health minister Jane Ellison met representatives of Coca-Cola, KFC, the powerful Food and Drink Federation and the Advertising Association trade group, according to Department of Health records.

The full list of 40 appointments, dating between July 2011 and March 2016, also includes meetings with Pizza Hut, Tesco and Nando’s. …”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3749791/Junk-food-firms-40-meetings-ministers-tougher-laws-scrapped.html

NIMBY – reality or slur? COVOP conference debates

“Community Voice on Planning National Conference

NIMBY – reality or slur?

Th first National Conference of CoVoP. It will take place at the Queen’s Hotel Leeds, Saturday October 15th 2016 (10.45 -3.45).

We are fortunate that we have a number of guest speakers as well as presentations from some of our trustees. We have confirmation that a cross party group of MPs will be attending and there will be a plenary session where we can address issues surrounding the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The theme of the conference is that the NPPF is not working – either for communities or the country. We will be producing a report from the meeting to present to the planning Minister to make sure that the Government gets the messages that arise from the discussions. We are determined to use this opportunity to state the case further for significant changes to the planning system.”