More ill-informed comments on planning from ministers

Daily Telegraph

The Prime Minister exhorted the Cabinet to step up efforts to increase house-building, speed up major infrastructure projects, and cut red tape for businesses…during a Cabinet meeting.

He set out areas of particular concern, including regulations for business, problems with the planning system, the tendency for EU directives to be “gold plated” when they are implemented in this country.

“It is difficult to get big infrastructure projects off the ground, whether in the public or the private sector. That is very difficult to make happen,” he said.

Mr Osborne, Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet office minister and Mr Cameron’s policy adviser, and Nick Clegg all spoke at length during the discussion.

The spokesman also confirmed that details of the government’s planning law reforms would be published “soon”.

“Reform of the planning system is a key part of what we are doing to boost growth,” he said. “We set out the principle of a presumption in favour of sustainable development. I think we will be setting out our plans on that quite soon.”

Why is it that ministers and in particular David Cameron, insist on continuing to make such I’ll-informed comments about the planning system, despite their own experience of it as MPs? Do they really believe that their constant repetition of, ‘growth at any cost, development will be our saviour, trust us we’re MPs’, will placate those who will soon be suffering from the rampant development they are promoting?

Not a good advert for elected members

A Welsh council has become the first council to be taken over by commissioners following the sacking of Isle of Anglesey CC’s cabinet.

Their interim managing director David Bowles blamed the large number of independent councillors running the council.  “The long-term survival of the council depends on very substantial changes to its running,” Mr Bowles told LGC. “The problem when you have a large number of independents is that they either have a charismatic leader who pulls them together or it becomes very divisive, which is what has happened in Anglesey.”

Mr Bowles said he had advised the local government minister for Wales to send in commissioners after infighting amongst the independents threatened the council leader’s position.

The whole council now faces the threat of an enforced merger with another council unless things improve on the political side (another first I believe).

Having written about ‘independent’ councillors before and their potential for a lack of leadership when they are running the council (a bit like herding cats, is my favourite description) I am tempted to crow a bit and say ‘see, I told you so!’. 

However, I have to temper this with the feeling that the people who are supposed to be represented by these elected members won’t be judging them as ‘independents’, but simply as elected members who have let them down and that is not a good thing for any us, whatever our politics.