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Flintshire North Wales Politics

Five-hour planning committee meeting sparks concerns

Flintshire County Hall

CONCERNS have been raised about the scheduling of council meetings in Flintshire after one session lasted more than five hours.

The issue was brought up after a meeting of Flintshire Council’s planning committee held at County Hall in Mold earlier this month started at 2pm and did not finish until 7.15pm.

There were a total of nine applications up for consideration at the meeting, including three large housing developments in Mold, Buckley and Abermorddu.

Problems with the scheduling of meetings were highlighted during a session of the local authority’s constitution and democratic services committee last week.

Liberal Democrat group leader Andrew Parkhurst said there had been concerns as another meeting was held earlier on the same day as the planning committee.

He said: “One councillor said to me that they were concerned about the length of time that it went on into the evening because it started at two o’clock and there was a previous meeting in the morning.

“They were wondering if the meeting for the planning committee could be held earlier, and to have no other meetings on that morning.”

According to the council’s rules, meetings which start at 2pm should normally finish by 5pm, unless the chair decides otherwise.

Flintshire currently has hybrid arrangements in place for its meetings, allowing people to attend both in person and online.

Several comfort breaks were held during this month’s planning meeting due to how long it lasted.

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Responding to the issues raised by Cllr Parkhurst, Steven Goodrum, the council’s democratic service manager said: “The meeting at planning was an unusual one where it went on for five and a quarter hours.

“I was present as well, and it was put back to two o’clock at the request of planning committee members.

“We do, where possible, try to minimise the potential for meetings to happen on the same date, but due to the constant meetings that we have, it’s not always possible to do so.”

Issues were also raised with the volume of the audio on the council’s webcast of the planning meeting.

Northop councillor Linda Thew (Ind) said: “Talking about the planning committee, I was contacted by a resident and I found the same problem myself.

“Particularly with the planning committee on webcast, the volume is very low and it’s very difficult to hear.

“Could the volume be checked to ensure it it’s a bit louder for everyone?”

Mr Goodrum said he believed the issue had been caused by participants failing to speak directly into the microphones provided in the council chamber.

However, he said the equipment would be checked to ensure volume levels were appropriate.