Planned distortion

The difficulty planning authorities have rejecting any application without the decision being overturned on appeal is well known. Strength of local opinion counts for nothing if an application complies with guidelines set by central government. Whilst some degree of central influence is necessary, so that national needs are met, there needs to be a reasonable level of local flexibility and accountability too, otherwise the local planning process appears pointless: just another sham consultation to make the people feel good when there is no intention of listening. So when a constituent says

Ask any of them and they’ll say what difference does it make talking to your councillor? It’ll happen anyway.

you might think that any sensible MP would interpret that as a judgement on the excessive central government control of planning. Sadly, Ms Snelgrove though an MP is not sensible. In a distortion of reality Ms Snelgrove interprets it as an indictment of the abilities of the local councillors.

I think it is really worrying that so soon after a local election, when only 29 per cent of those eligible went to the polls, there is this level of disillusionment with the work done by councillors. Something has to be done to re-engage people with the democratic process.

It’s not disillusionment with the work done by councillors: it’s disillusionment with the lack of power councillors have. If you want to re-engage people with the democratic process, how about freeing councils of central government controls and targets, not just in planning but other things too, such as education and social services. No doubt the press would scream ‘postcode lottery’ at every opportunity, but at least there would be something worth voting for in local elections.