Council scraps planning group

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SHIRE councillors have abolished the council committee that deals with major planning matters on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Development Assessments Com-mittee (DAC) was scrapped via a late-night Notice of Motion at the council meeting in Rosebud on Monday 25 May.

Planning matters will now be dealt with at ordinary council meetings.

The motion was put up by Cr Hugh Fraser who has pushed for what he calls the streamlining of council processes and procedures since last October.

This was when the balance of power on the council changed following the election of Cr Tim Wood, who replaced Frank Martin.

When the vote was called, five councillors wanted to retain DAC and five wanted it ditched. Deputy mayor and meeting chairman Cr Graham Pittock (filling in for the mayor, Cr Bev Colomb) used his casting vote to break the deadlock.

Four days later, local state MP Martin Dixon said he had received calls from residents who were “rightly confused and angry about the need for this latest council decision”.

“They see the integrity of our entire planning process being severely undermined,” he said.

He said the decision would give councillors “and the public less time and less ability to scrutinise all planning applications”.

“In response to strident … requests from across my electorate, I will be asking the Minister for Local Government to intervene and help restore transparency, scrutiny and consistency to all planning matters currently before council.”

Mr Dixon’s and other residents’ concerns were refuted by Cr Colomb. She told The News bringing planning matters into the Monday night ordinary council meeting (OCM) was a positive step although she would have preferred a trial period.

“I’ve spoken to many councillors across Victoria in my travels and it is common practice to have planning at OCMs,” she said. “In our region, Frankston and Greater Dandenong councils have this and so do many other councils across the state.

“I can guarantee to Mr Dixon and others that this won’t remove the rights of people who want to speak at council meetings about planning issues.”

In a statement to The News, Cr Fraser said council meeting procedures and briefings had been “simplified and regularised”.

“A multi-layered complex of council committees has been dismantled and the community will now be able to review the whole suite of council business at one fortnightly public, open and transparent council meeting.”

Councillors voting to scrap DAC were Tim Wood, Lynn Bowden, Tim Rodgers, Hugh Fraser and Graham Pittock. Against were Anne Shaw, Andrew Dixon, David Garnock, David Gibb and Antonella Celi.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 2 June 2015

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