Moves to increase transparency within the ABC Council’s planning committee have been shot down.
Alliance councillor Peter Lavery said his party was committed to pushing an agenda of increasing openness but were “disgracefully” shot down by a unionist pact.
“Alliance is committed to pushing an agenda of increasing openness and transparency at all levels of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council,” said councillor Lavery.
“At the planning committee I proposed that ABC council move to the automatic recording of planning votes where there is not unanimous consent for a proposal.
“This will involve the names of elected members being published in the planning minutes and which way they voted.
“The DUP and UUP members of the committee disgracefully teamed up to defeat my proposal. Why do they not want residents to have this information?
“We will raise this issue again at full council and hope that those parties currently opposed will change their minds on their indefensible position.
“I would like to thank Sinn Fein and SDLP members of the committee who supported the proposal.”
However, DUP Cusher Alderman Gareth Wilson hit back at councillor Lavery, saying he should have sought the views of members on the committee before “painting a very unfair and unhelpful picture”.
“This proposal is meaningless,” councillor Wilson slammed.
“I have sat on the planning committee for the past five years and indeed chaired it for one year. Not once has this been raised by anyone.
“The fact that the Alliance party is now making this non-issue an issue is bewildering.”
He added: “Planning Committee is one of the most open and transparent committees that actively operates within Council structures and is open to any member of the public to attend.
“It is furnished each month with highly reliable legal representation and informative and accurate minutes are taken and published each month.
“Any votes taken are taken in full view of any visiting member of the public and indeed the results accurately recorded.
“What I dislike the most about this ill thought out Alliance motion is at it suggests that Planning Committee, in some way, is not open and transparent.
“Whilst councillor Lavery is only a few months into his term of council it would be useful if he first sought the views of other members of the committee before painting a very unfair and unhelpful picture of a committee that is operating as one of the most efficient in Northern Ireland.”
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