‘Accountability not easily found’

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Bernard McGinley

Magdalen Road, St Leonards

Hastings Borough Council’s planning function has many artful dodges (‘Strange policy of planning office’, Letters, January 5).

Five objections are needed for a case to go to Committee — but it used to be three. Three minutes are allowed for objectors and petitioners to speak against an application — but that used to be five.

These were recent ‘constitutional amendments’, along with the introduction of ‘Firmstep’ software to monitor persistent complaints and complainers: all quite Orwellian.

Neighbour notification of planning applications has been done away with.

Then there’s the murky business of decisions under ‘delegated powers’, better known as ‘behind closed doors’. That’s how the Bunker in the Country Park was approved. There have been other dubious decisions.

Affordable housing ‘commitments’ can be abandoned with ease by developers once planning permission has been granted.

Awkward questions to the council can be sidestepped with a charge of £120 to answer.

Accountability is not easily found in the vicinity of HBC, either from members or officers.