Wednesday, 9 April 2014

District Council meets to consider issue of Lobbying ... reports

The District Council's Standards Committee met this week:
Futures Forum: District Council meets to consider issue of Lobbying ... again ... Tues 8th April
Thorny subject of lobbying up for debate at standards committee on Tuesday - Claire Wright

A full report will now be submitted to the June meeting of the Committee:

Standards Committee 
Tuesday 8 April 2014 

Motion on lobbying referred to Standards 
Committee by Council 
The Committee is asked to note that at the Council 
meeting held on 26 February 2013 Members agreed 
that the motion set out below be referred to the next 
meeting of the Standards Committee for clarification 
and debate. 

Motion - 
"Openness and transparency in the planning process 
is vital. This Council therefore agrees to include an 
item on the agenda of all Development Management 
Committee and Planning Inspections Committee 
meetings, requiring Members of those committees to 
declare if and who they have been lobbied by, about 
items on the agenda." 

There has not been sufficient time to prepare a report 
for this Committee meeting; however the Committee is 
advised that a report on this subject will be presented 
to the June Standards Committee. 
The Committee can use this opportunity to give their 
views on what should be included in the report. 


More lobbying definition pontification but report returning to standards committee in June

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 2 Comments by Claire
There was more lobbying definition discussion at this morning’s standards committee meeting, with several councillors still appearing to wonder what lobbying meant.
The discussion came about following my motion at February’s full council proposing that EDDC’s planning committee have the opportunity to declare whether or not they have been lobbied about a planning application.
The motion was referred to standards committee and was debated this morning.
Cllr Peter Bowden thought that lobbying was about improper influence, seeking to change a councillor’s mind about a particular issue.  Cllr Godbeer asked many questions of Cllr Bowden, who explored more of how he thought lobbying was defined and its complexities.
Cllr Frances Newth stressed the importance of keeping an open mind on a planning application. She was lobbied by people in the street about planning applications, she said.
There was then a conversation about mugs with a computer company’s logo emblazoned and how this was lobbying.
It all seemed like rather heavy weather was being made of what I saw as a simple issue and no one had referred to the fact it was only aimed at planning committee members in any case.
I explained that it was all about transparency, that EDDC had issues with being trusted by members of the public, that there was a police investigation ongoing and how this proposal could improve public trust in the planning process, as they could see and hear councillors declare whether they had been lobbied on planning applications.
It was very simple - all it entailed was an item on the agenda and confirmation from each councillor to say whether they had been lobbied and if so, whether it was in favour or against a particular application, I suggested.
I disagreed that lobbying had to be bad - we all lobby all the time about things, I said, that’s just part of life.
Ray Davison (external member of the committee) pointed out that lobbying was an essential part of democracy. He said that the gossip in Exmouth was that there may be impropriety in planning decisions at EDDC.
Cllr Ray Bloxham came to the table. He had been examining the constitution in which, he said, there was already guidance on reporting certain kinds of lobbying to the monitoring officer. He said that these rules should be examined before any further work was done.  No other local council appeared to have any rule in place on declaring lobbying as part of an agenda, Cllr Bloxham added.
A senior officer confirmed that she would prepare a report for the June standards committee meeting.
If you wish to listen to the recording of this debate, it will appear here soon -http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/standards_committee_agenda_mins_remit.htm
1. At 08:32 am on 09th Apr Sandra Semple wrote:
How strange that councillors don’t know what lobbying is when David Cameron and his cohort know EXACTLY what it means.  Some mess up in communication here between Conservative Head Office and Councillors Diviani and Twiss.  Pick and mix policies at work again.
2. At 10:47 am on 09th Apr Graham wrote:
In respect to the above lobbying discussion and planning impropriety the EDDC Tories are behaving like the three monkeys, - see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. In the Western world according to Wikipedia the proverb is used to refer to a lack of moral responsibility on the part of people who refuse to acknowledge impropriety, looking the other way or feigning ignorance.
More lobbying definition pontification but report returning to standards committee in June - Claire Wright

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