Letter: Martin Hickey January 19, 2018

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Parish councils in West Norfolk who object to a planning application that borough council officials, under their delegated authority, then recommend for approval, automatically have their objections submitted for review by the planning committee at which parish councillors and others may speak and, at times, successfully overturn planning officers’ decisions, thereby democratically upholding the views of their village or parish.

To save money, the borough bouncil’s cabinet, meeting in an unminuted session, and without any consultation with parish councils in West Norfolk, has now decided to set up a “sifting committee” of a cabal of borough councillors who will decide in secret which contested planning applications are referred to the planning committee.

For those not referred, these councillors are effectively acting as judge and jury. This is an authoritarian and highly undemocratic move, contrary to inclusive governance. It damages the reputation of the borough and is not in the spirit of the recently launched Borough’s Statement of Community Involvement. I call on all parishes in West Norfolk to make their views known to both the Leader of the council, and to their ward councillor, to stop this abuse of democracy going ahead.