"Would the monitoring officer please rule on the acceptance by Cabinet of a donation by the developer (CGP).......". Cllr Poole was making reference to the £12,500 'sponsorship donation made by CGP to TDC's 'Big Event' whilst its Planning Application was 'live' and under consideration by TDC.
Cllr Poole got short shrift from The Chair but the Monitoring Officer later made a reply. (Cllr Poole was clearly in order to raise it!). The reply, was as follows:
"...that was a payment received by The Council, not by The Cabinet and cannot create a personal interest by any member of the Council........ it cannot impugne the integrity and quality of the proceedings..".
I find this 'ruling' interesting. Whilst I agree, that no member could have a 'personal' interest, I have to beg to differ about it not affecting the integrity of the proceedings. Is there not a principle that is being carefully avoided by The Monitoring Officer, GOSE and now the Under Secretay of State, Mr Sadiq Khan?
Having seen the reply from GOSE to CPRE and many individuals asking for The Secreatary of State to 'call-in' the Planning Application, I am convinced that GOSE had 'pre-determined' such requests and even if it had been presented with clear evidence that Martians were beginning their invasion of Earth through Phase 1, would have replied in exactly the same way!
It has come to my attention that despite a constituent asking for his MP to request a reply from The Secretary of State that actually dealt with the issues brought to her attention, all the MP got was the standard letter to CPRE dated 17 Oct declining to call it in but at least dealt with by The Under Secretary of State! The person concerned, e-mailed Sadiq Khan with a letter attached, at the beginning of November asking for an answer. The 'system' avoids embarrassing questions of principle by not answering them and ignoring them. Having received no reply, he has since sent a letter to Sadiq Khan and I copy it below:
Sadiq Khan MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Department for Communities and Local Government
London SW1E 5DU 12th December 2008
Dear Mr Khan,
THANET DISTRICT COUNCIL PLANNING APPLICATION F/TH/08/0400
Roger Gale my Member of Parliament kindly copied your reply to him of 29 Oct 2008 to me.
I e-mailed you on the 7th November with effectively the contents of this letter attached as a letter and have not had the courtesy of a reply.
I am surprised that quite clearly you have not grasped the issue here.
Could you please do me the simple courtesy of explaining or answering these two simple points:
1. How can GOSE consider IN ADVANCE a request that they had yet to receive from me for The Secretary of State to call an application in and then without reference to the points drawn to their attention in that letter, send me a standard reply addressed to CPRE? Is this not pre-determination in its most derisory form?
2. Could you please tell me exactly what amount of money donated to and accepted by a Council from a developer whilst that Council is considering its application would warrant concern by your Department that the planning process had been compromised and therefore warrant The Secretary of State ‘calling–in’ the application? Would it be £5, £50,000 £500,000 or £5,000,000?
I await your reply with interest.
How do you rate his chances of getting a reply?