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Can a parish council be in favour of a planning matter contrary to the wants of the people of the parish it is serving?

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We are currently in the very early stages of a planning consultation regarding the siting of a major dual carriageway through greenfield/greenbelt land and as a parish are against the proposition. There is a local action group with a significant number of members who have met the parish council and expressed oppossion to the proposal, however the clerk to the parish has gone on local radio and publically stated that the parish council are in favour of the road and by association that the villages affected are also in favour.

My question is can the council members do this? can they state that they are in favour of something which has a fundamental effect on the parish when the majority of the people of the parish they are supposed to represent are against it?
by (140 points)

1 Answer

0 votes
That is a difficult situation!  Like most people elected to public office, parish councillors are not delegated to simply represent the views of the local majority on every issue.  Councillors are expected to consider each matter, and decide (by majority vote) what is in the best interests of the parish.

It is conceivable that councillors may sometimes be better informed or have spent more time over the consideration of an issue that the average citizen of the parish.  Although I'm not claiming to know that to be the case in this instance.

Clearly, given the need to be periodically elected, councillors are unwise to go against the views of citizens too frequently or in cases where there is a strong local opinion.  The ultimate sanction is at election time, and the next parish council elections will be in May 2015.

In the mean time, parish councillors are often vulnerable to pressure from citizens if it is strongly and repeatedly pressed, especially if it can be show to be the view of a large majority.

It's also the case that the principal authorities must consult the parish council, but are not bound to follow its advice.  The advice of a parish council will be given more weight than that of individual citizens.  However, if a sizeable local group puts forward a different view and presses its view on the principal authority, then that may have at least as much influence on the final decision as the parish council's comments.
by (30.8k points)

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