Friday, September 06, 2013

South Nairn - Westies and Subbies reply to Director of Planning with some radical suggestions

Gurnites will recall that the Highland Council Director of Planning Suart Black wrote a letter to all six Nairnshire Community Councils apologising for the error in the report that went to the planning committee for the South Nairn planning application. You can read a copy of what he said here.

Since then the Nairn West and the Suburban Community Councils have replied to him. Here's an extract of what the Westies say:

"We note your apology and recognise your embarrassment. But quite frankly, given the volume and detail of local comment, it is hard to believe that the inadequacies of the report were due simply to "...human error..." and "....absences of key personnel". 
You will have seen the editorial comment in the local Nairnshire Telegraph of 3 September: "Mere apologies will not do." More significantly, the editorial went on to highlight the role of CCs, not only as statutory consultees on planning matters, but also as "watchdogs on behalf of communities ", observing that this role, " [is] difficult if local authorities choose not to hear the warning bark "
The phrase is apt. There is a strong sense in Nairn that this current situation is symptomatic of a more deep-rooted problem with the Highland Council's approach to development planning: that the local authority does not hear, and does not want to heed, the "warning bark" from the local community. There have been numerous previous examples of local comments and objections being ignored or overridden. The Sandown saga was perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the consequences of officials' failure adequately to take account of local views and concerns." 

The Westies go on to say a lot more too and you can read the full text of their letter here. The Suburban CC too wrote to Mr Black. Here is an extract from their letter:

"One of the main lessons stemming from Council's South Area Planning Committee meeting of two weeks' ago is that the structure and composition of it is not producing a fair and reliable result. As regards the Nairn South Planning Application, "Local Decision Taking" as required by the Scottish Parliament simply does not happen. None of us in Nairn have any confidence in the planning processes.
The time has come to look at ways of delivering sound planning decisions and to take Nairnshire as an example. Ward 19 could join with Ward 18 and the 8 elected Councillors could join with a number of elected Community Councillors (many with just as many public votes as Councillors to form Local Community Planning Committees. They would all have a full local Knowledge and there would be minimal travel and expenses. We will be discussing this further with ministers."  Full text of the letter here. 

Radical suggestions then from the members of West and Suburban community councils. If you have been paying attention to the South Nairn issue so far it is well worth reading the letters linked above. Get yourself a cup of tea and have a browse if you can find a spare minute or two. 

1 comment:

APTSec said...

FYI Courier reports


'...A SPECIAL voting right for Highland councillors, which is believed to be unique in Scotland, is set to be scrapped.

The Local Member Vote, which allows councillors who are not on planning committees to have their say on controversial or major developments in their own areas, is poised to be axed next month...

...The threat of legal action has prompted the SNP/Lib-Dem-Labour administration to scrap the long-standing right...

...On Thursday the full council will be asked to formally abolish the right on planning and licensing applications from 30th September.

Councillors will be asked to support a proposal to select a substitute from each ward who could be allowed a vote instead.

The local authority’s planning leader, Councillor Thomas Prag, had previously warned the policy could be legally challenged because there was a perception pressure groups, like anti-wind farm groups, may have influenced local councillors to take a vote on contentious issues...

...Far North councillor Alex MacLeod claimed local member votes were often abused and backed their removal.

"We know that councillors often discuss local applications with each other, and that these discussions often result in members using their local member votes," said the Independent Nationalist. "That is in breach of our Code of Conduct, so we must do what we can to stop it occurring."


That's very interesting Cllr MacLeod...