Hastings council planning review motion fails to spark debate

Conservative members of Hastings Borough Council want a review of the planning department
Conservative members of Hastings Borough Council want a review of the planning department

Conservative Hastings councillors believe the ruling Labour party should be ‘ashamed’ after not debating a motion to review the planning department.

Tory leader Liam Atkins put forward a motion to discuss reforming Hastings Borough Council’s planning system for Monday’s meeting (February 1).

But he said none of the Labour councillors took part and ‘hid’ behind an officer who answered their questions.

Conquest Cllr Atkins said whether they agreed with his proposal or not, they should at least give an opinion and make their representation worthwhile.

“People across the town are rightly angry with the decisions and actions of our local planning department, but I was surprised that Labour refused point blank to even debate with us on this one, instead, hiding behind a council officer to defend the department,” he said.

“This is a lack of democracy and the Labour councillors should hang their heads in shame, whether they agreed with our motion for a reviewed planning department or not, they are elected to represent their residents, by failing to speak up whatsoever they must ask themselves – who’s side are they really on.”

The Conservatives say they are pushing for reform after a number of high-profile planning decisions have caused controversy.

These include the Rocklands development, the Queensway Gateway Road and Ecclesbourne Glen.

Tory deputy leader Rob Cooke seconded the motion and said the Labour councillors had let down their constituents.

“If the Labour councillors aren’t up for defending their own council, they need to re-consider their positions as councillors in Hastings,” he said.

“They have let down the very people who voted for them by failing to debate with us on what is such an important issue to residents across the town.”

Council leader Peter Chowney said an internal review would not be helpful at the moment after a number of reports into the department over the last year.

He said the council has had an external consultant and the Planning Advisory Service twice look into the department, as well as hiring a new development control manager.

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