Greens point to 'conflict of interest' over controversial Park & Ride decision
The Greens are claiming that Oxford City Council's decision to award ITSELF planning permission to extend the Seacourt Park & Ride on to Green Belt and flood plain land (without a demonstrated transport need) represents an unacceptable conflict of interest.
Only the Planning Portfolio Holder, Cllr Hollingsworth, excused himself from the heated planning committee last night citing a conflict of interest whereas the Greens believe that the problem is more widespread.
The Greens have raised a complaint with the Chief Executive about a one-page 'information sheet' (attached) circulated to all members the evening before the planning meeting (by the Council's own media office) which, the Greens claim, clearly amounts to an attempt to influence the decision of Councillors. Amongst other things, the 'information sheet' concludes "These ‘very special circumstances’ clearly outweigh the limited harm to the Green Belt".
The Greens are also claiming that Councillors essentially pre-judged the decision by including future income projections from revenue attributable to the Seacourt extension in their 2017/18 budget.
Says Green Group Leader Cllr David Thomas, "Any member of the public looking at this information sheet could reasonably conclude that the purpose of sending it to all Councillors the night before the planning committee was to influence, rather than simply inform, Members. Imagine if we were to do the same for a third-party developer? We would quite rightly be criticised and we would probably have the decision taken away from us. The fact that the Council are the applicant in this case has clouded its judgement."
FMI: Cllr David Thomas 07792 527421
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