OLDHAM Council’s under-fire planning department has come under more criticism after Shaw and Crompton Parish councillors were forced to cancel planning committee meetings because of a lack of paperwork.
Now Borough and Parish councillor, Louie Hamblett, has written to OMBC’s deputy chief executive, Helen Lockwood, to raise Parish Council concerns.
After being contacted by the Correspondent, Oldham Council stopped short of apologising.
But a spokesperson admitted to delays from a department with eight vacancies at the time of going to press.
They said: “We recognise that this level of service does not meet with the current high customer service standards expected from the Council.”
Cllr Hamblett has asked for his own explanation as to why lists of planning applications have not been received at Parish level on time.
The Liberal Democrat group leader on the Parish Council asked: “We know the planning committee has not met due to not having received the list for three times.
“I cannot speak for our colleagues in Saddleworth. However, as we are a statutory consultee it’s really important Parish councillors on the committee be allowed to have a say and give a view on all plans within the boundary of the parish.”
“I hope a reasonable answer can be found for this with a plausible explanation and hopefully it not be repeated.”
He said the Borough Council is legally obligated to send on all planning applications that fall within the boundary of Shaw & Crompton Parish Council even if the application falls in favour or against the judgement of the parish councillors.
“This shows the full transparency of how local democracy should work and how two authorities, no matter how great or minor they are in administrative size. should be working as a team for those they serve,” he added.
OMBC’s current planning department is staffed by five planning policy officers; four development planning officers; two planning enforcement officers; 1 highway planning officer; four planning admin officers.
The spokesperson added: “There are currently eight vacant posts. However, following a successful recruitment period, we are confident all the new recruits will start in post once their notice period has been served.
“Shaw and Crompton Council is sent the weekly list which can be used by the Parish Clerk to compile any list required to support its Planning Committee.
“As you’ll be aware council planning departments are extremely busy and ours is no different.
“Due to this high workload and current shortage of staff, as outlined above, we acknowledge that there has been a delay in getting all the relevant information issued to support the parish planning committee deadlines.
“We recognise that this level of service does not meet with the current high customer service standards expected from the Council.
“Alongside the successful recruitment, improvement measures are in place to support the team so information is shared in a more timely manner.”