“Could I ask perhaps the Highland Councillors to explain, there was something in the Nairnshire about the Highland Council trying to take away the local members vote. I’d like to really understand what was being said.”
Michael Green responded, “On planning matters we are quite unique in the
Highlands and that seems to be something that is not desired We have a local
members vote whereby ward councillors on a matter that affects them can come
along and vote, as did Colin me and Laurie who are not on PED. It worked in our
favour and I think it strengthened local democracy. There was a vote at the
Council last week and it was decided on balance to take away the local member
vote. I voted against that I thought it was vital we retained it but that’s
gone. Fortunately it’s not taken away until the end of September so we got one
A member of the public then asked for an explanation as to why it was taken away. Laurie Fraser then intervened:
“The reason was that officials backed by councillors felt that where you have a local member vote people could misunderstand and would falsely believe that you had predecided the issue before you went into the chamber. I can’t understand the logic, it went to a vote down political lines and we lost.”
Liz then said: “Well it came before the Council at the previous meeting and the Independents asked for a substitute member vote instead, so the paper was redrafted with that in mind and it came back and the Independents changed their minds and wanted to retain the local member vote.
Laurie than interrupted to say they wanted to retain the local member vote from the start.
Liz continued, “I think we are the only council in
that had the local member vote and I think the legal advice was
that it would have been, it was, inappropriate and they were saying that we
could, there was be a perception that we could be, then already prejudged the
application. Because as you go into a planning application you’re supposed to
read the reports and do it on the day.” Scotland
Graham who asked the question then commented again, “So it seems the Highland Council has got fed up with local Nairn Councillors telling them to get back into their box and with SNP political support has taken away that right.
Laurie then added: “Well it was the LibDems as well, don’t forget, and the Labour.”