We want local planning decisions to be transparent, and for residents to have a real say.
So we were disappointed by Merton Council’s decision last year to stop publishing residents’ comments on planning applications. At the Council meeting in February Merton Liberal Democrats put forward a motion to reverse that decision. Unfortunately our plan was blocked by Labour councillors.
At the time we argued that as well as making planning decisions less transparent, the Council’s actions would make it harder for residents to send in effective comments, and for councillors to do their jobs.
Unfortunately our concerns have been realised, and recently a councillor was unable to access all public comments on a planning application - making it more difficult for him to stand up for local people.
We asked the Council what steps they were taking to prevent similar issues in future, and were told it would be looked into.
Cllr Paul Kohler said:
“As councillors our job is to make sure that residents’ voices are heard. By making the planning process more restrictive the council is making this difficult.
“The Liberal Democrats believe that democracy is more than voting once every four years - residents should be able to engage with the council’s decision making process at all times. That’s why we’ll continue fighting for transparency in planning.”