Labour bans residents from planning site visits

Liberal Democrat councillors in Haringey have expressed outrage after it emerged that the Labour-run council has banned residents from planning site visits after the implementation of secret changes to planning protocols.

The new ‘rules’ have yet to be agreed by councillors and will not be brought for discussion and decision until 3rd September 2007, but the Labour Chair of Planning has decided to enforce them sooner. Lib Dems have demanded assurances that public will still be invited and that the protocols are not implemented until the change has been officially agreed by Haringey Council.

At last Monday’s planning meeting the Labour Chair of Planning refused a request by Lib Dems that local residents living around a site should be allowed at a planned visit to the site by members of the planning committee

Cllr Jonathan Bloch, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Planning, comments:

“This is the most incredible and blatant abuse of power yet by a Labour Council that has ridden roughshod over local people. Councillors simply cannot do their job properly under Labour’s new restrictive rules.

“These new rules are already being applied, despite the fact that they have not been approved by any committee of Haringey Council, nor are they in the newly agreed Constitution.

“The gold standard for planning procedures is the Government’s Planning Inspectorate, whose Inspectors judge appeals, and who always carry out their site visits with ample notice, and with the interested members of the public invited and able to participate fully. It is absolutely fundamental that those people who are directly affected by an application are able to point out local circumstances to the members of the planning committee.”

Lib Dem Leader, Cllr Neil Williams, adds:

“It is hard to imagine what possesses this Labour Council other than their misguided wish to do as much as possible with as little intervention from the public as possible. It is said that doctors bury their mistakes. Unfortunately, with planning local people have to live with and look at the mistakes of this Council for the next 50 or 100 years. Lib Dems will be doing everything we can to force Labour to back down over this and to achieve proper consultation.”