Green Party Councillor and General Election Candidate for Thanet South, Ian Driver, has criticised the public consultation arrangements for Thanet Council’s Local Plan as being “undemocratically short and totally insufficient”. He had argued that the consultation should be at least 12 weeks, but the Council’s Labour controlled Cabinet decided on 8 weeks. Driver said that the 8 week consultation period (9thJanuary to 9th March) “does not provide enough time for people to read and make comments on the 262 page document”. He added “the local plan is one of the most important documents to
have been produced by the Council in a long time. It sets out the Council’s policies about regeneration, employment, transport, housing and the environment covering the next 16 years. It’s a long and very complex document which directly effects everyone living in Thanet, that’s why local people should be allowed more time to read and comment on it”.
Driver pointed out that last year’s public consultation on setting up a town council in Margate and parish council in Westgate took 13 weeks and that Canterbury Council’s local plan consultation in 2013 lasted 10 weeks. He also highlighted Government guidance on public consultation which recommends that;
“Timeframes for consultation should be proportionate and realistic to allow stakeholders sufficient time to provide a considered response. The amount of time required will depend on the nature and impact of the proposal (for example, the diversity of interested parties or the complexity of the issue and might typically vary between two and 12 weeks. For a new and contentious policy, 12 weeks or more
may be appropriate”. (1)
“Its clear to me” said Driver “that because of its size complexity and importance, the local plan consultation should fall within the “12 weeks or more” category. Allowing only 8 weeks on a matter as important as this is an insult to the people of Thanet and proves once again that TDCs bosses and political leaders are contemptuous of democracy and want to exclude residents from having an influence over the future of their district.”
If elected to the Council in 2015, Green Party Councillors, will be fighting for improved communication with the public including properly managed consultations on policies which effect the lives of Thanet residents.
1. See Consultation Principles Guidance, The Cabinet Office 2013