Headlines: June 16th, 2003

Planning authorities in Wales have been told that an Audit Commission report into the conduct of Montgomeryshire Council in relation to two planning applications contains important lessons for them all. Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside in the Welsh Assembly has urged all councils to study the findings.The report highlighted a number of issues which the minister says should interest planners throughout Wales, including the need for clear meeting records and for elected members to receive planning training. It also points to the need for decisions to be based on planning policy grounds and for clear reasons to be given where this does not happen.

In its findings the Commission emphasises the need for each member of an authority to declare any personal interests they may have when their councils are making planning decisions. Mr. Jones said that the investigation of specific allegations was essentially a matter for the Audit Commission and the council, but he said he would be interested to know theoutcome of any discussions.

He said the Assembly was working with its partners to ensure that alldecisions commanded public confidence, and that planning delivered the high quality environment to which everyone had a right. “Our success depends on the commitment of each member in every planning authority in Wales, and I would encourage everyone who is committed to improving the planning system to look at the Audit Commission’s report to see what lessons can be learnt,” he added. The Audit Commission’s Report into planning in Montgomeryshire considers the County Council’s conduct and that of one of its members in relation to two applications at Aberbechan and Abermule and in relation to the preparation of the Montgomeryshire Local Plan.