Councillors Can Talk Freely On Potential Planning Proposals

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A former Mayor of Guildford has obtained, what he claims to be, important advice about councillors having the freedom to speak on planning issues without being accused of “pre-determination”


It had been considered that councillors should refrain from offering views on potential planning proposals in case they were deemed later to have a prejudiced view which could disbar them from any ensuing planning committee debate and vote when an associated application came before the council. At the time of the last local election, in May 2015, it seemed to be accepted by many councillors that they were constrained from expressing certain views on planning. It was even suggested that Guildford Greenbelt Group candidates  should not express views that they were against all green belt development.

Hon Alderman Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman Gordon Bridger

In an email sent to the local media yesterday (Mar 17), Hon Alderman Gordon Bridger,  wrote: “Please find attached an important statement which I have cleared with Planning England and the leader of the council [Cllr Paul Spooner, GBC] which frees planning councillors from the fear of being prosecuted if they dare utter a word about a planning application before [council] officers tell them [they can].

“This  misinterpretation of government guidance  has meant that councillors have been terrified of being  penalised if they comment on a planning application. They are now free to do so – but when  considering an application in committee they need to abide by policies and planning rules.

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