|I'm not a big fan of the Are Forums on either a personal or professional level. I always think it was much better previously when there was the Area Planning Committees and the Open Forum, to me there was more decision making at a local level which encouraged greater local participation. Although I have to say still being in the Town Hall at midnight having listened to hours of contributions about all kinds of matters as part of one of the monthly local forums was abit much for everyone !.|
Professionally, I'm not sure if things have changed since the last time I attended (I'll openly admit I only attend if I have a specific interest either personal or professional in a case), but the absence of any input from Planning Officers at the meeting I attended was something I found ridiculous. Essentially the Councillors had a one side summary of the main planning points, no Officers were present, a Councillor chaired the discussion of the item and the only contributions were from me on behalf of a developer and a third party, and due to the lack of oral input from the Planners I ended up essentially having to 'educate' Councillors on the nuances of planning law. Which isn't my job and goes completely against one of the unwritten 'rules' of attending committee as a consultant in that you should never upset the applecart by either inferring that as a consultant you know better or even worse threatening Members with an appeal. I ended up actually emailing both LBH and Councillor Lee (who I've known for many years) who was chairing the meeting afterwards criticising the then protocol and generally speaking no matter which Committees I attend these days I still find that both Planning Officers and Borough Solicitors are not half as vocal in committee meetings as they were 'in my day'.