Council leader Andrew Bowles says members of the public not professionally qualified to speak at planning meetings

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18 Sep 2009
During the planning application for the Kent Science Park, Cllr Bowles instructed members of the planning committee to ignore any comments and evidence given by members of the public as they are not professionally qualified.

Chairman of Bapchild Parish Council Andy Hudson who has made an official compliant says

“I think that it is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable that such a senior member of the council should behave this is way. At a time when trust in democracy is at an all time low this hardly demonstrates the level of impartiality and respect for others that one deserves.”

“I believe that there are grounds for misconduct and have therefore lodged an official compliant with Swale Borough Council.”

In Response Cllr Bowles has stated

“What I said was that members of the planning committee should bear in mind that none of those who had spoken against the proposal had claimed or given any evidence to support that they had professional qualifications to back up their comments.”

“I said that those officers from the planning department, Kent Highways Services and so on and letters from Locate in Kent, SEEDA and others did have formal qualifications.”

Cllr Bowles also says

“He had pointed out that opponents had not acknowledged the conclusions of experts”

Andy Hudson says

“I was not aware that members of the public were required to be professionally qualified and make this clear in their evidence before speaking at a planning committee. Nor did I realise that one is duty bound to agree with the planning department’s verdict.”

“Surely if this were true members of the public would not be allotted an opportunity to speak and in fact the whole premise of the committee would be redundant as no one may question the verdict of council officers.”

This is not only insulting for the various professionals, who assisted in preparing our evidence, namely our Town Planning Consultant, Transport Consulting Engineers and Legal team, but also to The Campaign to Protect Rural England, Derek Wyatt MP, Cllr Keith Ferrin who until recently headed up Kent Highways Services and of course ordinary tax payers who have a democratic right to voice their opinions.”