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New planning code of conduct accepted by Monmouthshire councillors

Monmouthshire County Council

MEMBERS of a council planning committee have agreed a code of conduct setting out rules they and officers must follow. 

As well as clarifying how meetings should be conducted, including when other councillors and member of the public can speak the rules set out “inappropriate” social contact with applicants, their agents, objectors and other interested parties should be avoided. 

Committee members who attend meetings by video links are also reminded they must be on camera “at all times” during consideration of an application to be eligible to vote. 

The code also sets out that when a committee makes a decision against the recommendation of officers the application will be deferred to the following planning committee and brought back with reasons for refusal or conditions of approval. 

It states if members make a decision contrary to the recommendation it is “essential” their reasons are recorded and that the minutes of the meeting incorporate “a full, clear and accurate statement of the reasons”. 

Committee members should also be aware of the risk of costs being awarded against the council at any appeal and Welsh Government advice is councillors are “expected to show that they had reasonable planning grounds” for going against officers’ advice and have evidence to support that. 

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The code will next be considered by the council’s standards committee, on March 11, and can then be agreed as an amendment to the council’s constitution as it sets out procedural rules for a committee and expectations of councillors. 

The standards committee had previously raised concern over the status of the planning code of practice and who was responsible for updating it. 

Planning committee member, Conservative councillor for Llangybi Fawr, Fay Bromfield told colleagues, who unanimously agreed to accept the code: “I think it’s really important this does form part of our constitution.”

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