Last Tuesday 8th September there was a meeting of the full TDC council in Clacton town hall. With three apologies for absence, I imagine that made 57 councillors attending.
With my interest in planning there were three elements that particularly caught my attention:
1:- Cllr Everett (UKIP) had submitted a motion to censure Cllr Stock (Con) “for ignoring the Local Plan Committee resolution to return the consultation to the Committee in the event of a significant decrease being identified in housing need”. This refers to the consultation document that was circulated for public comment, shortly before an updated housing needs assessment was received from PBA, the consultants employed by TDC. This did indeed reduce the housing requirement from 705 dwellings pa to 597 dwellings pa, a reduction that Cllr stock had described as significant. It turns out that the decision not to return the consultation document to the local plan committee was taken by a TDC officer – without any written record of the justification! The motion was defeated by the Conservative lead administration.
2:- Cllr Bray (UKIP) had submitted a motion that the council “makes available, free of charge . . . recordings of all future meetings of the Local Plan Committee and the Planning Committee” as currently happens for full council meetings. There was general agreement on all sides that this was a good thing to do. However, Cllr Stock (Con) proposed a motion that council officers be charged with investigating and producing a report on the technical feasibility and cost of doing this. That amendment was carried overwhelmingly, with myself being the only person to vote against. I support completely the free availability of recordings of these committee meetings and I see this improvement as completely inevitable. My vote was against the waste of council officers’ time in producing a report on the bleedin’ obvious.
3:- The Labour party have decided not to take up their seat on the local plan committee. Cllr Henderson (Lab) said the Labour group was required by the Widdecombe rules to give up two committee seats and this was one of the ones chosen. The council leader, Cllr Stock (Con), then proposed a motion that the seat remain empty, which prompted Cllr Stephenson (UKIP Group Leader) to propose an amendment that he take up the seat. TDC officers then explained that an amendment could not directly reverse the intention of the motion that it was amending. Whereupon I had my chance to speak up, proposing a motion that group leaders confer to see whether leaving the seat blank was indeed the best way forward. Planning is the biggest issue that I faced during the election and since, so it seemed to me to be not filling all the seats on this committee would be to let the residents of Tendring down. Cllr Stock (Con) indicated that he would accept the amendment, and it was accepted overwhelmingly on a show of hands. Whoever fills this seat, or not, the Conservatives will still have a majority on the Local Plan committee.
One final point, council meetings are open to the public. I did not note down the exact number of public attending, but it was about a dozen. Maybe TDC residents get what they need from the Gazette – and this blog of course!