There has been a bit of hassle over area development control committees in RCT lately. Labour Councillors have got their knickers in a bit of a twist after Welsh Liberal Democrat Councillor Mike Powell voted against the establishment of a Cynon Valley area committee.
Council leader Russell Roberts got all hot under the collar claiming ‘ the decision will stop local people from “having a voice” by not being allowed to get involved in the planning process.’ And accusing Cllr Powell of “reckless political opportunism”
Ponty’s AMs Mick Antoniw indulged in his own bit of political opportunism and decided to get involved by pestering poor Carl Sargeant with yet more questions . However, unless my reading of this is very wrong it does not seem to have got him the answer he was surely hoping for. And it is a shame that the answer did not get to the RCT Legal Officer in time for him to prepare his report to Council for next week as he still seems to be getting in a quite unnecessary stir over the whole business.
Perhaps the Labour party should indulge in a little more joined up thinking.
Answers to the Written Assembly Questions for answer on 21 June 2011
Mick Antoniw (Pontypridd): Does the Minister have any plans to consider providing alternative means of establishing area planning committees, in order to avoid the current situation in Rhondda Cynon Taf, where a lone councillor has used S.17 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 to obstruct the Authority’s continuation of area planning committees. (WAQ57507)
Answer issued on 22 June 2011
The Minister for Local Government and Communities (Carl Sargeant): Section 17 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 provides that the need for a local authority to allocate seats on council committees in accord with the political balance of the authority can be disapplied if all members of the authority vote in favour of such a proposal. I assume you are referring to a situation whereby a single councillor has withdrawn their support.
However, the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990, which apply to local authorities in Wales, provide – at regulation 16A – that the duty to allocate seats in accord with political balance does not apply to area committees established to discharge functions of the authority.
Therefore, it should be possible for an area committee established to discharge planning functions to be unaffected by the provisions of section 17 of the 1989 Act.