COUNCILLORS were told to do their homework to stop planning meetings dragging on for hours on end.
Changes to the operation of planning debates at Chichester District Council were recommended by cabinet to full council last week (September 9).
However, cabinet member for finance Tony Dignum also said councillors should make sure they read the committee papers beforehand to stop officers being asked unnecessary questions.
“There were clearly people reading as we went along,” he said of previous occasions when he was on the committee, adding committee members should ‘raise your game’.
The changes recommended to full council include meetings starting earlier at 9.30am and not normally continuing beyond 5pm.
Also, the size of the committee should reduce to 15 from the current 18.
Cabinet member for housing and planning Carol Purnell said she felt the task and finish group assigned with looking at the planning committee had produced a ‘fair and balanced report’ of the committee’s effectiveness.
The committee has been operational for a year, following the merging of the north and south area development management committees.
In the old format, a representative from every ward was present on the committees, however since the merger, a ward member is not present every time and someone from a nearby ward has tended to step in.
The convention that the ward member for the application would speak first has ceased, however this is partly because the ward member may not be on the committee.
Cllr Purnell confirmed the ward member could still register to speak at the meeting in addition to public speakers.