23 April 2015…..To sit on the Planning Committee, every councillor is required to undertake a basic orientation course of training. Planning is a quasi-judicial process and involves both legislation and adopted policies (national and local). It is also a highly technical discipline and councillors need to be aware of the way it all works so that they can ask informed questions and take informed decisions. Some do this better than others it has to be said (!).
The May 7th elections, rather inconveniently, fall just 6 days before the first planning meeting of the new Administration. This poses huge logistical problems and raises issues. Should it be cancelled. The decision has been taken that it will not be cancelled; it will go ahead with the agenda expected to be published and online the day before the election.
The first problem the council faced is knowing who will be available to sit on it. There is the existing planning committee of councillors but there are also a number of trained-up councillors in each party who substitute for official committee members from time to time, as necessary. There are also serving committee members who are not standing again for election.
It has been decided that all the councillors on the outgoing committee who are standing again will be put on the agenda as expected to attend. The places of those not standing again will be given to named cllrs standing again who are already trained-up substitutes. On the day itself, names may change again, depending on who is or is not re-elected, but it is considered that there is a sufficient pool of substitutes likely to be re-elected to ensure that the meeting is quorate (i.e. at least a third of the committee of 12).
The membership of all committees is formally announced and set in stone at Annual Council on May 21st when the new Mayor is also formally installed.