Councillors table motion disagreeing with council’s support for plans to scrap public notice obligation

Councillor Jeffrey Tucker. Picture: Ricci Fothergill

Councillor Jeffrey Tucker. Picture: Ricci Fothergill - Credit: Ricci Fothergill

Councillors have tabled a motion objecting to Havering Council offering its support to government proposals which would remove an obligation for public notices to be advertised in the press.

The plans are part of the government’s ‘Planning for the Future’ proposals, which look to reform the country’s planning system.

At the moment, councils have to inform residents of certain planning applications they receive through public notices in newspapers such as the Recorder.

The government’s White Paper said the changes, which bid to digitise the process, will make the planning system “more democratic” and open to more people, adding: “Residents will no longer have to rely on planning notices attached to lamp posts, printed in newspapers and posted in libraries to find out about newly proposed developments.”

In its response to the consultation on the plans, Havering Council said it supported in principle an increase in using online methods, such as social media, to reach a wider audience.

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It said: “At present local authorities have a legal duty to pay for statutory notices in local print media but media consumption has overtaken these archaic regulations.

“The council would expect these requirements to be removed as part of the planning reforms.”

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The response has been questioned by Independent Residents’ Group (IRG) councillors Jeffrey Tucker and David Durant.

The IRG has submitted a motion to next week’s full council meeting, urging councillors to strongly disagree with the decision to support the obligation removal.

Cllr Tucker said: “I strongly believe public notices should remain in local newspapers.

“It is Havering Council’s job to support our communities including the community newspapers.

“Local newspapers like the Romford Recorder have for many years been the very best way forward in advertising local planning matters.

“Local community newspapers are just like local community shops who play a big part in our communities and they should be supported.”

Cllr Durant added: “Normally the biggest item in a councillor’s mail-bag is about planning matters and so planning applications need to be advertised.

“In turn the advertising in the local paper helps keep them solvent to report on planning matters.”

The Conservative group has put forward an amendment to the motion stating that the council welcomes the administration’s consultation submission.

A council spokesperson said: “There is no suggestion that planning applications would still not be accessible to the public and that residents would continue to be informed.

“We are in a different world now where people access information through different ways - such as digital, not just through local papers.

“We therefore need to make sure as many people as possible can access this information.”

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