NEWSLETTER 20

Hi all,

Have your say

First, as has already been noted on our Facebook page, Cllr Sir Steve’s doing a phone in on Radio Sheffield on Friday.  How about phoning/texting or emailing a question?

BBC Radio Sheffield’s main switchboard: 0114 273 1177
On-air – call a show: 0114 279 6699
Web team: 0114 273 1177
Text number: Send your texts to 81333 and start your text with the word ‘Sheffield’. Texts will be charged at your standard message rate.
Email address radio.sheffield@bbc.co.uk

Progress on Comments on DLPC
You will remember that we asked for copies of submissions sent by email, so that we could monitor the website to ensure those comments got posted.  We received over twenty such submissions and only a very small number have appeared on the website since the closure of the consultation.

Only ten comments have been posted since then, and only one of them is on our list and even that one is incomplete.  We’ll continue to watch the site to ensure every comment made gets there, but it does beg the question – what about the ones we don’t know about?

After all the fuss of the drop in on 8 July last year and the “Barnsley West” website “launch”, you’d think that there would be some very forceful arguments for development of MU1 being put up by Spawforths/Strata among the comments, but there’s nothing there.  Is it because they think they’ve already done enough direct with BMBC?
Other groups
 
As reported already, there are now three other groups (at least) with similar concerns and aims.  We now have the full Chronicle pieces on the Hoyland group – enclosed.

The common theme in all the new groups is a criticism of poor communication.  BMBC have been challenged by KIG on their failure to follow their own rules, which state that every householder should have been sent a postcard announcing the consultation.  They suggest this is optional, governed by resources, yet we hear that council staff are currently touring council estates trying to sign residents up to the new, on line voter registration system.

 
So, there you have it – the Council are adamant that web-based notifications, supported by postings in specific locations, were an adequate system for informing residents of this crucially important subject, yet they go on to prove that this is clearly not the case when it comes to matters that could influence the outcome of local elections.  Another example of do as I say, not as I do?

And finally,

A minute from the last full Council meeting:

92. Questions by Elected Members

The Director of Legal and Governance, on behalf of the Chief Executive, reported receipt of a question received from Councillor Hand-Davis in accordance with Standing Order No.11.

‘Could Members of the Planning Regulatory Board be given authority to allow local Ward Members to speak at meetings of the Planning Regulatory Board’

Councillor Miller, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place responded by stating that the Council’s Planning Code of Conduct, which had been introduced in 2004, amended Standing Orders to expressly provide that Elected members who were not Members of the Planning Regulatory Board were not permitted to speak at meetings of the Board. The Code had been considered by the Standards and Probity Board prior to it being recommended to the Council. The changes were influenced by the importance of establishing clear accountability for who was responsible for making decisions on planning applications.

However, given that it was some 10 years since the Code had been introduced, he was more than happy to ask officers to re-examine the document in consultation with himself and the Chair of the Board giving due consideration to the current legislative requirements and the increasing localism agenda which had assumed an increasing significance since 2004.

A further report would be presented so that the relative merits of the alternative approaches of the issue could be given proper consideration.
Councillor Hand-Davis welcomed this approach and commented that this issue had arisen due to a number of particularly contentious planning applications being submitted. He asked, therefore, as a supplementary question, whether consideration could be given to the adoption of an approved protocol perhaps requiring written consent for permission to speak.

Councillor Miller welcomed any suggestions and asked Members to let him have any suggestions so that all options could be considered prior to the submission of a report.

The theory that accountability would be enhanced by not having to hear all sides of the story seems a bit strange but, hey, it’s worked OK for ten years, hasn’t it?  In practice, the system’s even simpler than described above, as Cllr Phil Davies found out (see newsletters 24.1.15 and 2.2.15).  In the streamlined system, even members of the committee are told to shut up if they can’t say something nice.  Why should we expect anything to change in a practical sense?

Just imagine what we’ll be up against if the Government Inspector fails to put a stop to the Council’s plans for our Green Belt.

Regards,
Ian Preddy

Representing Keep It Green 2014
http://www.area215barnsley.org.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitgreen2014
https://twitter.com/keepitgreenbar1/with_replies

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