A Lewisham councillor has claimed he and colleagues are being “warned” by council staff to vote in line with their recommendations ahead of public planning meetings.
Speaking at a full council meeting, Cllr Liam Curran, who sits on the council’s main planning committee, said councillors had been “warned” against deviating from Lewisham Council planning decisions .
Mr Curran asked whether this could be looked into as part of the council’s democracy review – work a group of councillors is undertaking to enhance transparency, openness and increase public involvement in council decisions.
“This question is to highlight the key and vital role of backbench councillors on planning committees and to challenge the fact that at planning committee, councillors are warned against voting against officer recommendations on the committees,” Cllr Curran said.
“There is no point in councillors being on the committee if they cannot adjudicate on councillor recommendations, and from time to time might find they have made mistakes.
“Planning like law can go either way and councillors can decide which way – that is their role.
“Will mayor and cabinet consider this as part of the democracy review to ensure councillors aren’t put into this position?” he asked.
Lewisham Mayor Damien Egan said councillors did not have to agree with Lewisham Council planning decisions.
“No members of the planning committee should feel an obligation to give judgement based on what is presented,” he replied.
Cllr Curran had also submitted a member’s question asking how many appeals against planning committee decisions had been upheld and refused, but the information would not be available until the full council on January 23.