Sunday, 17 January 2010



The Planning Committee of any Council that acts as a Planning Authority is probably the most critical committtee in any District or area as its decisions must be seen by the average man/woman in the street to be unbiased and without predetermination, as the decisions of this committtee can lead to exceptional pecuniary advantage or disadvantage to applicants making Planning Applications.
What is TDC's recent record in its formation of The Planning Committee? Poor, I would argue.
The first ominous sign was the removal in 2008 of Cllr Bill Hayton by The Ezekiel Party prior to the most significant planning application to be made in Thanet for many a year; The China Gateway by CGI (CGP). At the same time The Ezekiel Party stifled any comment by the public at Site Visits by changing the rules. As is reported elsewhere, this led to a site visit for China Gateway, where member's attention was not drawn to the fact that they were standing on the final protection zone of our aquifer and its pumping station only a few hundred metres away.
Things were to get worse. Two Conservative Cllrs quite clearly had concerns about China Gateway in 2008 and voted with Labour members to refer the China Gateway application to Full Council. The two principled Conservative members, Cllr Alisdair Bruce and Cllr Mike Jarvis then found themselves 'sacked ' from Planning Committtee in May 2009 at the first opportunity that The Ezekiel Party and its Leader could get rid of them.
Readers should remember that no whip should apply to Planning Committtee decisions and that decisions should be not predetermined but decided on the night after careful consideration, debate and listening to all the arguments for or against.

If you look at my  'Gallery' above of the core Ezekiel Party members of The Planning Committee, you will see an ex- Labour Planning Chair as Chair; a property developer as Vice-Chair (Day & Son); a member whose husband is a property developer; and two husband and wife teams; the Sullivans and the Tomlinsons.

"Hold on Bertie", you might say, Cllr Shirley is a Cabinet Member and as loyal an Ezekiel Party member as you can find, but she isn't a member of Planning. Isn't she , I reply?

Look at these attendance figures at Planning Committee below, and then tell me she is not a 'de-facto' member of The Ezekiel Party Planning Committtee:
Since Cllrs Bruce and Jarvis were 'cast into the outer darkness' for not doing what was expected of them in Aug 2008, Mrs Tomlinson, a Cabinet Member and reliable Ezekiel Party member,  has sat on every Planning Committtee  since July 2009. How does she manage an attendance on Planning that is more than The Vice Chair you might ask? (6 out of 6 consecutive meetings)
Quite simple, she sits as a 'substitute'! :
on 15 Jul for Mrs Russel; on 18 Aug for Mrs Sullivan; on 16 Sep for Mrs Sullivan;  on 21 Oct for Mr Crotty; on 18 Nov for Cllr Goodwin and on 16 Dec for mrs Russell.

You might also be surprised to find that the Agenda for The Bradgate Caravan Park Application,  where her husband Mick Tomlinson has had connections in the past with running disco's there and was on Planning Committee on 21 Oct, shows that Mrs Tomlinson 'called in' the Planning application as Cabinet Member for Tourism. The Agenda states that the Tourism Officer supported the application and:
'Cllr Mrs Shirley Tomlinson requests that Planning Committtee considers the proposal with regard to Thanet Local Plan PolicyT3 which supports caravan parks across the island and tourism considerations in general'.

What a surprise then that Mrs Shirley Tomlinson, Cabinet Member, should then find herself sitting as a Committee Member  (as a sub for Cllr Crotty) on Planning on 21 Oct to make a decision on the Bradgate Caravan Park extension for a further 51 mobile homes on vital agricultural land, and urging the case to approve the application contrary to the advice of a professional planning officer of TDC whose advice was to reject the application for the same reasons The Planning Committtee in 2008 rejected it.(That was when Cllr Bruce and Cllr Jarvis were Conservative members, before being kicked off planning.) The minutes show this:

(h) F/TH/09/0515-Bradgate Caravan Park, Manston Court Road, Margate CT9
Change of use of agricultural land for the siting of 51No. static caravans.

Moved by Councillor Mrs Tomlinson and seconded by Councillor Mrs Sullivan
“application F/TH/09/0515 be approved as the economic benefits of the proposed
development would outweigh the concerns that had been raised at the loss of agricultural
land, the visual impact of the proposal and the sustainability of the site. Members were
satisfied that the proposed improvements to the access as well as the arrangements for
water supply and disposal were acceptable, and overall that the proposed development
is acceptable when judged against the policies contained in the development plan,
subject to the imposition of appropriate safeguarding conditions ”

Will need to look closely at DVD of 21 Oct meeting now together with TDC's Planning Protocol that outlines very clearly the procedure to be followed when Planning Committee act contrary to a Planning Officers recommendation!


Anonymous said...

I've attended a few planning committee meetings recently supporting friends for or against applications and what has struck me is that from the Conservative side, absolutely no debate. From the opposition there is always debate/questions/concerns raised.

Yes, I know planning isn't a 'political committee' but with eight Tories, one nominal Independent and five Labour why is it always the five Labour representatives who raise issues/concerns and ask questions?

The last one I attended, admittedly not for the whole session, nothing from the right-hand side except voting 'approval'.

This is one committee that it's illegal to whip but sometimes I look at who is sitting there mute and wonder if those who voted for them realised they had voted for a bunch of sheep following their shepherd whoever sits in the first seat.

How many of them have even bothered to attend the site visit that is agreed for many applications? How many have even read through the officer's reports before sticking their hands up?

Anonymous said...

Whip crack away - whip crack away, when the dead wood party arrives at the planning meetings!!!

Message ends

The Sheriff and the Posse

Reward; for information for jerry- mandering in Thanet since 1700

Anonymous said...

Planning meetings I have attended the vice chair almost always proposes the rest follow on. It looks like a rubber stamp exercise. What is the percentage of applications turned down? I think you will find that the majority are swept through.

Thomlinson and Day seem to work as a double act, it would be comical if the issues weren't so important.

Anonymous said...

Only time Day voted, recently at least, against the officer's recommendation was, surprise, surprise the Bradgate expansion scheme where the only feature that had changed since the previous application was.....£10k for highways improvements. I'm no expert but how much of a cyclepath/highway widening will £10000 buy? About 10 metres? More?

Anonymous said...

The Tory members of the planing commitee all voted for Nethecourt touring park to open all winter,60 residents signed a petion against it,as it is land gifted for their use,It was passed as predicted.It now stands empty every night lit up like a football pitch,with just a couple of caretakers living on site in a caravan.

Anonymous said...

See the planning income /expenditure below and wonder why we are in such a mess, surely a planning dept whould be near break even not running at minus £1.5 million.

The amount of planning fee income received during the periods that you requested is set out below:

April 2006- end March 2007 - £619,252.28
April 2007- end March 2008 - £803,833.90
April 2008- end March 2009 - £586,746.30

The cost of the planning functions (planning applications, enforcement and policy) for the last three financial years is as follows

April 2006- end March 2007 - £2,001,693.35
April 2007- end March 2008 - £1,870,357.29
April 2008- end March 2009 - £1,871,813.64

Anonymous said...

This covers some enforcement as well as planning Bertie and one tory ally would have increased the budget substantially by having 200 of his complaints investigated fully and then not satisfied the council had to pay an outside consultant to re investigate the complaints - still finding nothing to answer for! If anyone makes a complaint about his activities in return - there is not enough funds to investigate - that says volumes for how TDC works!

Anonymous said...

It amazes me that there the people sitting on the Planning Committee have no experience. Shocking yet typical of TDC.