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West Norfolk councillor admits he 'erred' by failing to report correspondence

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A West Norfolk Council committee chairman has admitted he 'erred' by failing to disclose correspondence he received ahead of a debate on the process of dealing with planning applications.

Members of the authority’s corporate performance panel debated proposals to continue using a sifting system to determine which schemes should be debated by councillors last week.

But, during Thursday’s full council meeting, the panel’s chairman, Harry Humphrey, admitted he had passed correspondence he received on the issue to officers.

He said he asked for an assurance from officers that the debate had covered the points raised in the letters and received it.

But he acknowledged: “I should have announced the correspondence beforehand.”

However, independent group leader Jim Moriarty said disappointment had been expressed about the lack of input from parish councils during the debate.

He said: “Those letters were written to you as chairman and you did not share them with anyone other than officers.

“Why did it not occur to you to say there were five letters from parishes?”

Mr Humphrey replied: “I think I’m wrong and I erred on that night but I did feel the debate that took place made points that were related to parish councils.”

Candidates for the Norfolk County Council Elections May 2013. (7419193)
Candidates for the Norfolk County Council Elections May 2013. (7419193)

The debate came at the end of a 12 month trial period in which a sifting panel decided which applications should be referred to the council’s planning committee and which should be determined by officers under delegated powers.

The system was heavily criticised when it was introduced by some parish leaders, who argued that it was anti-democratic.

But the borough maintains that the system does not prevent communities from having their views on applications represented during the decision making process.

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