SENIOR Labour councillors have reacted angrily to news of the £1 million bill faced by Cheshire West and Chester Council for representing planning concerns of local communities.
Councillors attacked the government’s planning policy, which they say makes it more difficult for communities to object to developers plans.
Labour’s environment spokesman, Cllr David Robinson, said: “Spending £1 million of public money on failed planning appeals does not make sense when we are facing massive cuts to essential public services.
“The Tory-led Coalition Government has made a complete farce of the localism concept with their rushed changes to the planning system and it’s costing our council tax payers dearly.
“The new presumption in favour of development enshrined in the Tories’ National Planning Policy Framework gives no realistic opportunity for residents to shape their communities.
“At the very least, land supply targets should have been phased in to allow an evidence-based local plan to be produced to a sensible time scale.
Cllr Robinson also attacked council leader Mike Jones, who is chair of the environment and housing board at the Local Government Association, calling him “ineffectual”.
He added: “As a leading Tory member of the Local Government Association, Mike Jones seems to have been completely ineffectual when faced with the steamroller planning policies of his own Conservative Government.”
CWaC Labour leader Justin Madders said: “This is a scandalous amount of money going straight from our community into the pockets of developers.
“We know from recent decisions how councillors feel the pressure to agree to permissions they are not comfortable about because of the power of developers.
“If the planning committee listened to public concern more often, the figure could, in fact, be much higher.
“It’s clear that the system the Tories saddled us with gives too much power to developers leaving local communities powerless to resist.”