VIDEO: WARRINGTON Borough Council Leader Russ Bowden was given a grilling on the planning portal’s IT failure issues when his “Leader’s Forum” arrived in Appleton – one of the areas most under threat in the proposed Local Plan.
He was joined by Deputy Leader Cathy Mitchell, while the forum was Chaired by Steve Park, the council’s Director of Growth and MD of Warrington & Co.
warrington-worldwide provided live coverage of the event.
Cllr Bowden started his forums across the borough earlier this year saying he wanted to find out about the issues that matter most to communities.
He said at the time “Warrington has a big year ahead, with a very challenging budget position and it’s important that I don’t lose sight of those local issues which have the greatest community impact.
“I welcome scrutiny and challenge, and the forums will be a chance for me to respond to questions and discuss key issues in an informal, open setting. I know that asking questions in formal Council meetings can be a little daunting, so I want to create an environment where everyone can raise questions or concerns and know they will be listened to.
Cllr Bowden fielded a variety of questions, starting with the IT issues which have been facing the planning department during the consultations on the Eddie Stobart and Six 56 planning applications and the Local Plan.
Numerous residents complained that they had not had any acknowledgement that their comments had been received. There were complaints that the planning portal was difficult to use, not fit for purpose and there was a lot of concerns that responses were not appearing on the planning portal.
Cllr Bowden, who during the debate announced that the Six 56 Langtree planning application would be heard on July 24th at the town hall, said: “It is a concern to us as elected members that some comments aren’t being received.”
He assured residents that if it transpired that a large number of comments had not been received he would take steps to address the problem.
There were calls from the floor that if it was proven that the consultation process was flawed, it should be started again.
A former IT professional in the audience described the council’s website and planning portal as “pathetic” and “rubbish.”
Cllr Bowden said work was ongoing to produce and deliver a new and better website.
Other concerns raised included the council’s close relationship with large organisations and “conflicts of interest”, development of Green Belt land, poor infrastructure and the council’s decision not to defend the refusal of planning permission at the Eddie Stobart appeal.
To hear all the questions and the answers check out the live broadcast above.