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FBC - is this double standards or just selective morality


IFA2 & Fareham Borough Council – as most members will be aware Fareham Borough Council’s (FBC) planning committee decided on 23 Jan to approve the preliminary application for the IFA2 buildings and the final application for the associated cabling.


The chairs of Lee, Peel Common and Hill Head were eventually allowed 5 minutes each to speak at the meeting but by joining forces and splitting the topics made this into a joint one of 15 minutes. FBC has yet to explain why the “independent” review of factors that could impact on flying operations at Daedalus and on which they relied to approve the plan was withheld for two months from public scrutiny and why they have still refused to release the original draft despite two Freedom of Information requests. Sadly, with two exceptions, the councillors paid little attention.


One should congratulate Cllr. Jon Butts on his integrity on listening carefully, taking notes (isn’t this what they are all supposed to do?) and eventually, with one other, voting against to give a 7 to 2 result. The committee chair even seemed annoyed by Jon’s questions.


The Council argued that their Local Plan and Strategic Gap requirements that limit development did not apply to IFA2 as it was of national importance. The latter just happens to be the trigger for a “calling in” procedure where the minister can decide to halt the application and arrange for an independent review.


The three association chairs, GBC councillors and Caroline Dinenage MP have all signed letters asking for this procedure. The Gosport and Fareham View newspaper has expressed concern about this decision.


Then just 4 days later the same committee decided to throw out two large applications for housing development as being “completely contrary to their Local Plan” because they are to be built in an area designated as countryside.


 This is appalling and surely this warrants an enquiry into local authority governance and scrutiny?


Meanwhile in London, MPs of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee have launched a “long-overdue” inquiry into overview and scrutiny in local government. They said it would “consider whether overview and scrutiny arrangements in England are working effectively and whether local communities are able to contribute to and monitor the work of their councils". They are asking for written evidence on: Whether scrutiny committees in local authorities in England are effective in holding decision-makers to account; the extent to which scrutiny committees operate with political impartiality and independence from executives; how chairs and members are selected plus a range of related topics. The deadline for written submissions is Friday 10 March 2017.

Now I wonder what we could draw to their attention?