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Local Plan: debate delayed by Council blunder

A special meeting
about the controversial draft Local Plan had to be cancelled this week because
of an administrative blunder by the city council.

The executive committee
had been due to decide on Monday 20th May whether to put out to public consultation the
document, which earmarks almost 16,000 new homes across the district. But an
eagle-eyed resident spotted the council had failed to give 28 days’ notice of
the meeting, with embarrassed bosses forced to put back the debate.

The authority
admitted it had incorrectly labelled the decision as “key” on papers
sent out before the meeting, making it mandatory to advertise it four weeks in
advance. But bosses have now taken advantage of powers they hold to give just
five days’ notice in cases of urgent business, meaning the meeting will be held
next Thursday 30th May.

The error was raised
with the council’s democratic services department by Jon Linnane, of Old Dover
Road, Canterbury, who is a member of the Langton and Nackington Road Residents
Association
. He said:

“The law is
quite clear that a key decision needs 28 days notice and I raised it with them
on the basis the decision was of high cost and covered more than one ward. They
were aware of this on Tuesday, so why did it take until Friday to pull the
draft Local Plan from the agenda?

It is laughable that a council which can’t
follow simple procedural rules has a chance of over-seeing this huge strategic
development. We had leafleted 450 of our residents urging them to go to the
meeting to express their anger and frustration at this uncosted,
environmentally unfriendly and heritage-damaging plan.”

City council leader
John Gilbey claims there was no need to publicise the upcoming meeting. He
said:

“I don’t think
this is a key decision because it’s consultation – it’s not that we’re deciding
to do this. We’re putting it out there for the public to look at and have their
say. As there is doubt, we will take the safe route and wait a week. I’m not
happy about losing the time but I’m not prepared to take any chances.”

HB Gazette 23rd Mar 2013

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