My TAFF, your TAFF

13 Dec

A few years ago, a Task and Finish Forum was set up by EDDC to look into the issue of employment land (Chairman of the TAFF, Councillor Graham Brown, who was then and is now Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum).  The TAFF recommended that the advice of two separate sets of consultants who suggested a moderate amount of employment land should be ignored and that EDDC should go along with the recommendations of the East Devon Business Forum which wanted a very large amount of business land in the Local Plan.  This was agreed by EDDC.  This TAFF obviously had to look into planning policy as consultants’ advice was part of the council’s planning policy research.

Fast forward to Tuesday.  A TAFF met for the first time to look into the East Devon Business Forum’s relationship with East Devon District Council.  Before anything at all was discussed, Chief Executive Mark Williams said that it was his advice that the TAFF could not look into planning policy and gave the impression that this was legal advice.  He said that only the Planning Inspector could deal with planning policy aspects of the Local Plan.  He did not elaborate as to why he believed this to be the case. The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the Planning Inspector does NOT look into any aspect of the historical planning policy or decision-making that led to the production of the local plan,  though he or she can be informed by comments made about that plan by those commenting on it during official public consultation periods.  This is why it is very important to submit your concerns about how the plan was drawn up as part of this current consultation which ends in mid-January.  The inspector will not look anywhere else.

The Local Plan is currently in its final consultation period, so the Local Plan is not yet with a Planning Inspector and could still be amended, otherwise why have this consultation period at all?  So why cannot the TAFF look into planning policy?

Here is a council (Newcastle Borough Council) whose Task and Finish Forum has been looking into planning policy.  The first sentence of its report says: “Below is a synopsis of  Planning Policy – considered by the Task and Finish Group on 8 June”.

Here is an example of another council Task and Finish Group (Luton) looking into planning policy .  One of its points (no 7) says:  “The membership of Task & Finish Groups may include any Member of the Council, except Executive Committee Members and, during investigations concerning planning policy will not include Planning Committee Members.”  Now, that one is interesting because one of the six members of the EDDC/EDBF Task and Finish Forum is a member of the Development Management Committee (Mrs Duval-Steer).  Here is what Luton says about its TAFFs in general:  “Time limited Task and Finish Groups scrutinise specific Council policies, services or other relevant local issues which impact on the lives of Luton residents.

Here is another council (Dacorum) talking about its TAFFS: Task & Finish Groups are established to carry out detailed work on specific topics or issues. The groups are established, and their membership managed, by the Programming Panel, which consists of the three political group leaders with advice and support from appropriate officers.  Members are appointed to Task & Finish Groups based on their interest, either on the issue or as a representative of a relevant ward, and personal knowledge or expertise.  The Groups are Member led, and conduct their business on an informal basis. They have no decision-making powers, but aid the policy development of the Council by examining important issues and preparing ideas and recommendations for consideration.

As many know, our Chief Executive is shared with South Somerset.  This is what their website says about Task and Finish Groups, which come under a banner headline of “Taking informed and transparent decisions”:  “The code should reflect the requirement for local authorities to: Develop and maintain an effective scrutiny function which encourages constructive challenge and enhances the authority’s performance overall and that of any organisation for which it is responsible.  Compliance can be demonstrated by: Scrutiny task and finish groups”.

What a difference a few miles can make!

2 Responses to “My TAFF, your TAFF”

  1. Not A Developer December 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

    SoMr Williams, over to you.

  2. Medusa December 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    Do we have a right to ask Mr Williams to explain himself, or are we gagged too? zor perhaps Mr Diviani should answer this question.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: