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Labour U-Turn on Planning Enforcement Officer

July 7, 2022 5:52 PM
By Exeter Progressive Group

Exeter Labour has made a sharp U-turn on employing a permanent Planning Enforcement Officer to oversee adherence to planning rules and conditions. An amendment to the Council budget to create such a post was proposed by the Progressive group in March 2020 and again this March. Each time the ruling Labour Group voted down the proposal. In January they appointed an expensive agency Enforcement officer on a temporary basis to try to clear the 180 job backlog. Now at last they have conceded the council should employ its own enforcement officer and are now advertising a permanent role [1]. Labour U-Turn on Planning Enforcement Officer Welcomed

Cllr Michael Mitchell, Liberal Democrat Councillor said,

"This is great news for Exeter. Given the level of development taking place in the city and a shortage of planning officers, a Planning Enforcement Officer will help hold developers to account, ensuring they abide by planning rules and regulations. It is vital that we protect our city from dodgy developers and those who want to sidestep the planning system, and a Planning Enforcement Officer will help in this."

Cllr Kevin Mitchell, Liberal Democrat said,

"We welcome Labour's U-turn on a Planning Enforcement Officer, but what a shame they ever opposed it. It is clear voting against the Progressive Group amendment was just grand standing. What they have now realised is it's actually a very sensible idea, and one that would have saved money if they had started months ago."

Green councillor Diana Moore uncovered the move in a recent meeting. She said:

"The Planning service needs to be better resourced. There is a significant reliance on temporary staff, currently costing £138,000. Exeter is one of the few Councils to give free detailed advice to large developer applications and it's clear the Council can no longer afford to subside this."

Notes

[1] See Agenda item: Questions from Members of the Council Under Standing Order No. 20: Questions to Portfolio Holder for City Development, point 4 - A new Planning Enforcement role has been created (replacing the existing temporary agency role) and will be recruited.