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Councillor Michael Brown called for Newark and Sherwood District Council's chief executive John Robinson to resign over 87-home development decision on Lord Hawke Way, Newark

A councillor called for a chief executive to resign after a controversial planning application was voted through at the third time of asking.

Michael Brown, who repeated his call after Tuesday’s virtual meeting of Newark and Sherwood District Council’s planning committee, has been asked to retract his comment ­— heard on a live public stream ­— and apologise.

The committee was asked to debate an application by Arkwood Developments, the development company owned by the council, for 87 homes off Lord Hawke Way, Newark.

Michael Brown. (34171144)
Michael Brown. (34171144)

The committee had twice voted against the application on the grounds of inadequate parking and highways concerns.

It was amended after the second refusal to include five extra parking spaces and resubmitted, with the county council expressing no highway concerns. It was recommended for approval.

Government policy allows for decisions to be made by elected members in virtual meetings to keep Britain building through coronavirus.

However, when the council held its March meeting those powers were not in place so the committee could only make recommendations to chief executive John Robinson, for the final say.

John Robinson. (34171146)
John Robinson. (34171146)

Mr Robinson, following legal advice, chose not to accept the March committee recommendation for Lord Hawke Way on the grounds of unreasonableness.

Recommendations on other applications that went before committee at the March meeting were upheld by Mr Robinson.

The application was returned to Tuesday’s meeting and passed, with conditions, on the casting vote of chairman Roger Blaney after the vote was tied six all with one abstention.

Roger Blaney. (34171148)
Roger Blaney. (34171148)

“We came up with a relevant decision, which was passed to the chief executive who said it was not appropriate for the decision to be made,” said Michael Brown, who called for Mr Robinson’s resignation, after the meeting.

“It is quite shocking that the officer of the council will take decisions made by the councillors and overturn them just because of legislation.

“We have got the leisure centre and sports facility and Gladstone House, the impact on Bowbridge Road is going to be huge.”

Mr Brown, council member for Edwinstowe and Clipstone, said he was furious that Mr Blaney interrupted him as he called for Mr Robinson’s resignation.

Land off Bowbridge Road, Newark, plans of development 201019DD1-5. (20485445)
Land off Bowbridge Road, Newark, plans of development 201019DD1-5. (20485445)

He said: “When Roger spoke over me I was furious because at the end of the day, every councillor has the right to speak.

“More decisions are being made by officers than elected officials.”

In a statement, the council said: “At a meeting of the planning committee on March 31, the committee made recommendations on planning applications for consideration by the chief executive. The chief executive accepted all the recommendations, with the exception of that relating to the proposed housing development at Lord Hawke Way.

“The committee had recommended refusal of that application but following legal advice, the chief executive referred that application back to the committee, as the decision to refuse the application would result in an appeal that the council would likely lose, at a significant cost to the residents.

Council leader David Lloyd said the decision taken was taken in line with the council’s constitution and planning law.

David Lloyd. (34171249)
David Lloyd. (34171249)

He said: “It was entirely appropriate for the chief executive to refer the Arkwood application back to the committee following legal advice about the grounds for refusal and the risk of losing an appeal.

“Michael Brown has misunderstood aspects of the process and it is wholly unacceptable that he has alleged bullying, just because he has not got his own way.

“His comments about our chief executive were unfair and unjustified and he has been asked to withdraw them and apologise as a matter of urgency.”

  • The strapline on the printed version of this story on the front page of today's paper (April 30, 2020) inaccurately stated the chief executive voted through the application that appeared before Tuesday's planning committee for the third time. As the story makes clear, it was, in fact, the planning committee. The editor apologises for this error.

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