CBC’s Chief Executive Richard Carr, has provided us with an update on the planning decision process during the COVID 19 emergency.
In these extraordinary times, we are focussed on responding to the public health emergency. As part of this, we need to take account of the restrictions on all but essential travel and the requirement for social distancing. This practice inevitably has had some negative impacts on our operations, with many regular services and processes being disrupted.
Amongst these have been our democratic decision-making meetings, which sit at the heart of our core purpose as a publicly accountable organisation.
Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, new regulations have been introduced which enable councils to resume these meetings by substituting previous legal requirements (for Councillors to meet in person) with new powers to operate in a virtual context.
If all decision making was suspended, this could build a backlog of key decisions and ultimately delay economic recovery in Central Bedfordshire. We have trialled the use of technology to bring Members together at an informal Executive gathering in April. The conclusions reached by Members during that informal discussion and using the executive powers, vested in me during crisis situation, have allow us to make some decisions.
This is the approach I am consistently taking in the use of these special powers. In other words, where I am taking decisions which would ordinarily be taken by a committee of Members of the Council, I am only doing so after I have taken account of the views of the Members concerned.
There is a plan to move to formal Member decision-making committees operating virtually, in line with the Coronavirus Act 2020, facilitated by a suitable technology platform during May 2020.
It is in this context that we have instituted a temporary model for the consideration of some planning applications on the 29th April. This model will enable some applications which would normally have been considered by the Development Management Committee to be shared with relevant local Members for comment and for a small Member panel to make recommendations to me on the use of my emergency powers. We will be especially sensitive to any applications which are likely to be contentious and I am not expecting to make any decisions on any applications which fall into this category. We have a statutory duty to determine applications within a reasonable time. Failure to do so would be grounds to appeal to the Planning Inspector.
I should stress that no decisions on planning applications have been taken under these arrangements as of the date of this message of the 22nd April 2020.
For transparency, we are explaining this arrangement on our website at relevant pages and I would be grateful if you could assist us in reassuring the public on this arrangement by directing them to this content.
Green Waste Collections Restarting from 27th April 2020
CBC plan to re-start the collection of garden waste from Monday 27th April. This should coincide with our Green bin collection.
Please do not overload the bags.
Please do not report any missed bins to us or CBC.
CBC will continue to monitor the situation and will update residents with changes as soon as possible.