Posted tagged ‘NPPF’

That was the local government week that was

March 30, 2012

New week; same rubbish picture

Another week and another big Government announcement that will have a large impact on local government. Thus, where the budget led last week the National Planning Policy Framework followed this week. As always on these big days we are indebted to the Guardian Local Government Network for keeping us appraised of what is going on. This summary of responses from key stakeholders was a useful quick catch up. As this comment from the Chief Executive of the National Trust demonstrates it also showed that the response was actually fairly positive:

There are a number of important changes that have been made to the draft, responding to concerns that we and others raised. All these changes improve the document and give it a better tone and balance.

Now the serious business of planning begins. The country needs huge effort at a local level to get plans in place that properly reflect the integration of social, economic and environmental goals, and protect places people value.

However, if like us planning is not your thing this wordle from @gaillyk summed it all up very quickly:

Whilst talking about local development this story from the USA tickled me. Yes, we have some lobbying of local authorities over planning issues but US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a lobbyist dedicated to helping him build his house. As Politico report:

At Mitt Romney’s proposed California beach house, the cars will have their own separate elevator. There’s also a planned outdoor shower and a 3,600-square foot basement — a room with more floor space than the existing home’s entire living quarters. Those are just some of the amenities planned for the massive renovation of the Romneys’ home in the tony La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, according to plans on file with the city. A project this ambitious comes with another feature you don’t always find with the typical fixer-upper: its own lobbyist, hired by Romney to push the plan through the approval process.

No matter what happens with our more localised planning system please don’t ever let us learn that lesson from our American cousins.

Thanks to @williamoulton for alerting us of the impending end of the executive and scrutiny function and the replacement of it with good old fashioned committees. As the Local Government lawyer reports:

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That was the local government week that was

January 6, 2012

New year and yet the same old picture

As we enter the New Year the people in WLLG towers are filled with optimism. The first week of the New Year has provided it’s usual mixed bunch of headlines and despite everything we are determined not to let it get us down and to follow the lead of the excellent Guardian Local Government Network and be more positive in 2012.

So, starting with the heavy stuff (that we shall not let get us down) the Daily Mail kicked off 2012 with a story about local government pay (quel surprise). This one was about local government pay increments, a topic we have discussed in the past. Here, the Mail ‘discovered’ that:

The survey of 188 councils shows that a shocking 72 per cent use annual increments to reward staff.

It means many Government employees are given more money on the basis of experience rather than performance.

These increments, known as ‘time served’ payments, are usually awarded either in April at the end of the tax year, or on the anniversary of the employee joining their council.

Local authority pay rates published by Unison, the public services union, show there are 49 distinct salary increments for staff earning between £12,145 and £41,616, no matter how well they are doing their job.

It’s hard to get as upset as the Daily Mail did about this but it does raise a pretty serious issue for local government. Are we serious about pay cuts and pay freezes including those for people with less than four years in a particular role with the understanding that this is fairer than just freezing the salary of those with long service?

And secondly do we believe that paying increments based on service time is better than putting in increments based on performance? I favour the latter but I think it is part of a fundamental decision that local government still needs to make.

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Planning, Passion, Patience and Pedantry

September 12, 2011

A pedant too?

The proposed National Planning Policy Framework is causing a certain amount of uproar in local government circles. However, the debate over big national issues, important as it is, sometimes means we miss the smaller day to day debates and activities of the average local authority planning committee which will interpret this Framework which local people might end up relying on. Thankfully, for those who are interested we have a guest post from a dispassionate observer of just such a committee; yes, the committee clerk.

If you have a post you’d like us to put up on the blog please drop us a line at welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com

 

In my first job in the Committee section of a now defunct District Council I, like most clerks, cut my teeth writing the minutes for thePlanning Committee.

I can’t pretend that what I learnt by sitting listening to hours of discussion, debate and derision, has left me with an expert knowledge in planning policy but it did give me a number of interesting insights and an appreciation for our system that I’ll share here.

Before I start, and in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework debate currently raging like corn fire caught by a changingwind, I’d better acknowledge that we need to find a strategy for meeting our development needs. However, like all officers subject to political restrictions I won’t say whether my views are positive or negative on the Governments proposals.

What I have learnt is that planning issues engage the public like no other issue.

However, nearly all the time this is fuelled by negative desires.

You try and build something that people don’t want in their street then most of the street will turn up to tell you about it. Only once do I remember a member of the public (where there were neither the applicant nor their agent) turning up to a planning committee to talk in support of an application.

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