Site visits! Yeah, I received exactly the same response );0)
(a) It is not OK to spend minutes looking at some blurry on screen plans at a meeting and then pass a credible comment upon the hopes and dreams of residents.
Thankfully, since (a) is unfortunately common, the second part of your question kinda compensates for it.
(b) what real impact do PC’s have over planning - thankfully, very little to none because consultee comments are very rarely properly considered or aligned with existing planning law.
Having done an FoI for a 24 month period seeking the answer to how many 5 day protocols had been issued, how many had been replied to and what the outcome was it was patently apparent that very nearly 100% of PC 'objections' resulted in LA approvals and numerous PC 'supports' resulted in LA refusals.
Whilst this particular PC continue to lambast the LA for ignoring their consultee contributions, what they consistently fail to recognise is that it is the content of the consultee comments which is inappropriate / inadequate / unlawful.
And so the cycle continues.
So the answer to (b) is zero (or very close to)