September 30th, 2016

Campaigner complains over ‘late’ Worcestershire Highways reports

Campaigner complains over ‘late’ Worcestershire Highways reports Campaigner complains over ‘late’ Worcestershire Highways reports
Updated: 10:53 am, May 07, 2015

PLANNING issues across the county are being handled without the proper consideration of highways because of cutbacks, a campaigner has claimed.

Peter McDonald said the reduction in Highways staff at Worcestershire County Council was having serious consequences.

He claimed instead of having highway reports with the agenda a week before planning meetings many were now only being handed to councillors on the night or not at all giving them little or no time to considers any matters which had been addressed.

Mr McDonald said committee members needed to be given adequate time to consider highways reports on planning applications so they could come up with a sensible and rational decision.

He added all other reports were submitted seven days before meetings within the agenda and he claimed before the cutbacks so were highway ones.

Mr McDonald said: “The council’s obsession with reducing staff is now putting in jeopardy the quality of decision-making of important planning applications.

“It is an absolutely ridiculous situation where members of planning committees no longer have adequate time to consider such reports which are vital to the approval of any planning application.

“Without adequate staff within the highways department more and more reports will either be ignored because of a lack of time to consider them or reports will not be forthcoming at all.

“The consequences are that applications may be approved that have a devastating impact long-term on the local highways.”

Nigel Hudson, the council’s head of strategic infrastructure and economy, said there had been no reduction in the number of staff preparing highways reports for planning applications.

But, he added, over the past year there had been an increase in the complexity and number of proposals put forward, which they had been asked to respond to.

He said they recognised there was a problem with some reports being provided late in the day, predominantly in Worcester so the county council team dealing with applications was restructured in January in order to resolve the issue.

Mr Hudson said an additional factor was the ongoing dialogue with developers over applications which sometimes meant revisions had to be made and they had to go back and get updated comments and recommendations.

He added: “We always strive to ensure that all the relevant reports and details are put before councillors in order that they can make an informed decision.”