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Newark and Sherwood District Council pass enabling motion to change constitution to allow public speaking at planning meetings

Members of the public may be invited to speak at planning meetings, to bolster public opinion and transparency.

The decision to let residents speak will be at the discretion of the planning committee, but an “enabling” motion has been passed to allow them to make that decision.

Peter Harris presented the item at a full council meeting of Newark and Sherwood District Council, and it was met with unanimous support.

Castle House, headquarters of Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Castle House, headquarters of Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Mr Harris explained that the motion would not “determine the future of public meetings”, and the final decision to allow public speakers would be made after a debate within the planning committee.

The motion was recommended for approval on the basis that it would allow members of the public to comment directly on planning applications, and “enhance the public participation provisions” in the council’s constitution.

It stated: “Delegating authority to planning committee to make specific arrangements will give the committee flexibility to test and amend as necessary to ensure the correct balance between public participation and efficient dispatch of planning committee business.”

Andy Freeman, chairman of the planning committee, said: “I think at a time when public trust in politics is at a very low level, mainly because of the drama that goes on in Westminster… I think its important that local democracy, the closest democracy to the people, takes what decisions it can in order to expand participation, in order to encourage openness and transparency.”

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