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Plans destruction report out soon


THE long-awaited independent report into the unlawful destruction of planning records held by Warrington Borough Council is due to be presented to the council’s audit and corporate governance committee on Thursday.
The report by barrister Eric Owen was commissioned by the committee following last year’s finding of maladministration against the council.
A council spokesperson said it was important that the report be progressed through the appropriate channels and that the committee have the opportunity to review it first, to determine how the matter should be progressed.
The council is still awaiting the final report and will publish it in full as soon as it is available and prior to Thursday’s meeting.
“It is anticipated that the report will be a detailed one, which will require equally detailed consideration of the findings and recommendations, and the council is committed to giving the report the serious attention it deserves.”
Last year, the Local Government Ombudsman, Anne Seex, criticised Warrington for “an extraordinary and inexcusable act of maladministration”.
She said the maladministration arose from the fact the council had wrongly destroyed records of planning applications.
The decision had been taken by a senior officer who had since left the authority.
Since 1947, planning authorities have had a statutory duty to hold planning applications on record for people to view.
The issue came to light when two householders at Culcheth complained that the council had failed to deal with planning applications properly, over the development of a house in Twiss Green Lane.
Ms Seex said decision notices were kept – but without the plans and applications, it was not clear what had been approved.
“The ombudsman has grave concern that this represents a significant and very serious failure of corporate governance,” her report added.


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  1. I really hope that this can draw a line under this sorry affair. But that won’t happen by laying all the blame at the door of somebody who has left the council. There are people now working for the council who we know from the existing reports in to this that were dealing with the Twiss Green dispute and advising councillors without disclosing they knew their advice was supposedly based on information they had themselves helped to destroy. This was not the work of one person.

  2. I do hope that we can see the full report "prior to Thursday's meeting". It is correct that one man was not responsible for this maladministration and we need to know just what action the Council are going to take, to the benefit of its residents, with regard to its Planning Department. I'll not hold my breath!

  3. This report,and the final one when available, should be made available to download via the Council’s website. To misquote the Old Yellow Pages ad – it shouldn’t just be for the nice things in the Council’s life.

  4. If you look on the Council website then you will see it there! It is available warts and all, apart from what must be confidential letters between solicitors. Well done to Clr O’Neill for putting this to an independent inquiry when he took over. Hopefully this will give those that were wronged a full explanation and some kind of closure. But just as importantly, it must start to repair the reputation of that department and restore public faith in planning!

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