Planning Green Paper (Supplementary) [9]

Session date: 
March 27, 2002
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

It's not too late, but there are other areas of the democratic deficit in the green paper which we would have expected you to have addressed. For example, the green paper says "90% of planning decisions shall be dealt with under delegated powers". Now that of course is entirely at variance with the view that members of the public shall be entitled to go along and attend Planning Committees. Of course we know they can't attend your Planning Committee, but they should be entitled to attend Planning Committees and make representations to them to say what should happen. Every learned body connected with the planning process, the TPI, the RICS, the Civic Trust, have opposed that particular proposal, you have not. Moreover, so far as the democratic deficit is concerned, you seem to have supported it, although you have marginally amended it since the Planning Committee met on the proposal to get rid of counties as planning authorities. Because you think that regions should do that, but in the interim counties are elected and they are accountable. Regions, apart from this region, are not elected and are not accountable. We take the view, or rather you took the view at the time of your election and the Planning Advisory Committee looking at your opinions, has taken the view, that these are areas where democracy ought to be enhanced. You appear by your silence on these matters to say that it's okay for democracy to be lessened.

Supplementary To: 

Answer

Answer for Planning Green Paper (Supplementary) [9]

Answer for Planning Green Paper (Supplementary) [9]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I think there are real problems. Clearly if we are going to have English Regional Government then there should be one tier of local government below it, i.e. Unitary Authorities. Now, in many areas those would be town or city based and in other areas a slightly reduced form of county might be the right structure, but it is single tier. I think that would be a more effective way. I think you are right, it would be a clear reduction of democratic accountability. Things being dealt with by the Counties go to regions before those regions are actually elected. I think the Government should press ahead very rapidly and get the English Regional Government system directly elected and get these issues resolved.

You made the point that the public can't come to my Planning Committee. I don't have a Planning Committee. I take personal decisions about whether or not I should direct a Council to refuse a development. I have no power to direct a Council to accept one, and I do accept that if that power was given to the GLA it should rest with the Assembly and not the Mayor. I think it would be wrong for the Mayor to direct acceptance. But all I have is effectively a call over with my officers at which I ask the sort of questions which it would be against public interest to be in the public domain. I ask my officers, "What do you think is the maximum we can squeeze for planning gain out this development? What are the resources of this developer?" It's very much that sort of poker game, trying to get the best deal. If it was open to the public, the planning applicant would be sitting there knowing my thinking, my strategy and knowing exactly the extent of my knowledge about their resources and the economic potential of the site.