Plans not decided on party lines

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IAN Cooper (letters, July 28) is incorrect both factually and politically.

Firstly, Janet Battye has been opposed to the development of Sainsbury from the first and has been advising people how to object to the planning application so as to make the strongest planning case against the proposals. However strongly any of us feel about this application, it can only be refused on strong planning grounds, otherwise there is a great risk that it will be passed on appeal by the planning inspectors.

Secondly, as Mr Cooper well knows, planning is a quasi-judicial function of the council and the members of the planning committee do not make decisions on party lines. In my 21 years as a Liberal Democrat Calderdale Councillor, including chairing the then Upper Calder Valley Planning Sub-Committee, I was never asked to take a party political decision on a planning application.

Thirdly, the legal advice members of the planning committee have been given is that they must go to the planning committee with an open mind, and not make their mind up or state their view in advance of the meeting.

They have to listen to the evidence presented by the applicants and the objectors, hear the advice of planning officers, ask any pertinent questions of all sides and then make a decision based on what they have been told at the meeting. They are in effect hog-tied by government rules and regulations, rules largely laid down by the Thatcher/Major Conservative governments.

Fourthly, it is surely a poor political judgement to step down from the planning committee, when they and only they will make the decision. Mr Cooper would have served his constituents far better by being involved in the decision rather than objecting from the sidelines.

Dr Michael Taylor, Todmorden.