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Hi,

At our planning meeting last night two Cllrs requested that a planning application was added to the agenda for the next meeting but the request was refused by the Chair. We discussed this application last October and agreed to support it in principle. Since October, evidence has come to light proving the application does not comply with our Neighbourhod Plan. The district planning officer also undertoook a 21 day re-consultation in December which our Chair told us we could not participate in because they said the MO had told them we could not re-discuss the application whilst a complaint against the Chair was being investigated (this MO investigation has since closed), and the Chair said there was no need for us to add any further comments anyway - which many of us disagree with as we have multiple concerns to raise.

We have called an EGM, so are hoping to be able to rediscuss in the near future but my question is, since I am reletively new to being a Parish Councillor, is the Chair correct in saying we are not allowed to reconsider decisions for 6 month periods? If so, on what authority is this based as I have checked our standing orders and cannot see this information? It is sounding more and more to us like the Chair is obstructing our right to rediscuss this application, to the degree that we are now considering an MO complaint, but want to be sure that the Chair is incorrect in what he stated last night, so would sincerely appreciate advice regarding this.
by (200 points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
If you resolved you support it in principle, by  definition you can change your mind if detail emerges that shifts the balance. Resolutions can be reversed if information comes to light subsequently to justify them. The chair cannot unilaterally decide that the application cannot be put forward as an agenda item. I have heard of the six months rule will see if I can find out more.
by (34.9k points)
You should have received a copy of the allegation sent to the MO. You need to know who resolved to call for a vote of no confidence. The chair is not empowered to do that unilaterally.  The MO should only deal with breaches of the code of conduct of legislative breaches, and I can't see how what you have done amounts to either. I think the whole council, not the chair must resolve to exclude discussion on non confidential items. I can't see why discussion about an application cannot continue. The council can only respond during the consultation period but can discuss anything they choose. First suggestion demand a copy of the chair's complaint. If the chair refuses, make a complaint about him/ her to the MO for breach of the code of conduct.
Thank you so much for the advice Graeme_r, I did as you suggested and spoke with the MO who then contacted our Clerk and advised that the vote of no confidence against me needed to be removed from the agenda and it duly was prior to the start of the meeting. The Chair nevertheless made a public statement informing all present at the meeting that he has made a complaint against me and would immediately table the vote of no confidence once the MO's investigation had been concluded. My understanding was that these matters are supposed to be private and confidential whilst they are being investigated- indeed our code of conduct states we are not supposed to disclose private matters, so this seems rather unreasonable. The Chair then held a vote to ban me from sending any further communications regarding the planning application concerned which again seems unreasonable, so I will now look into what breaches these actions may constitute with a view to making a complaint. Thank you again for taking the time to reply to me.
I wouldn't lose any sleep over the vote of no confidence. It has no legal standing whatsoever.

Report the fact that the Chair has openly discussed his complaint at a council meeting to the MO. If the MO does decide to investigate the complaint, none of those present at the meeting should be called as witnesses, as they have participated collectively in a discussion of the complaint and are therefore no longer independent.

Ask your Clerk to clarify the legal status of the vote to ban you from sending further communications, with reference to the legislative framework.

Finally, consider submitting a Code of Conduct complaint against the Chairman for bullying, for abusing his position and for bringing the council into disrepute. The complaint form will be on your district council's website. Read the guidance notes carefully and apply them to your particular circumstances, as they're all slightly different.

Hope this helps
In addition to the excellent response from DavetheClerk I would add that Chair has no authority to instruct or prevent you to do anything, so if he succeeds in getting a resolution to prevent you communicating about the planning application, it would be unlawful and baseless.
Thanks once again DavetheClerk and Graeme_r, you have really helped me and put my mind at rest. The form to the MO has just been submitted after spending the weekend comilling evidence etc. and I will now request the legislation from the Clerk regarding the resolution to ban all communication, as I completely agree it cannot be lawful.

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