March 11th, 2013 |
The Daily Telegraph Uncovers Something Smelly
The Daily Telegraph has exposed some cases of councillors setting up as paid planning consultants to help developers:
Councillors across the country are offering themselves for hire to property developers who are hoping to take advantage of relaxed planning laws which come into effect within weeks, a Daily Telegraph investigation reveals on Monday.
Local government politicians are trading on their inside knowledge of the planning system to receive fees of up to £20,000 for advice on how to get developments approved, it can be disclosed.
Despite apparently creating the potential for a conflict of interest, it is not illegal for councillors to work as paid consultants. Councils are expected to face an increase in applications for building when new planning laws take effect at the end of this month.
This is pretty startling and worrying stuff ; councillors usually have a strong sense of idealism about wanting to help our communities, not about promoting our business interests.
It’s mentioning that Rochford District is almost unique in the UK – all 39 councillors are on the planning committee. That means that it’s harder to work in the shadows like this, because we are all involved, and would have to declare an interest.
Also if you have a committee of 39 , it’s lot harder for one rogue councillor to cajole them than , say , a committee of 6 or 7.