Experts set to finish council review today

Experts set to finish council review today
By Tony Earnshaw 
Local Democracy Reporter

KIRKLEES Council is undergoing its second peer review in less than a year.

This time experts from the Local Government Association (LGA) will look at the authority’s planning and delivery services, including highways.

It will be the first LGA planning team peer review since 2013.

Last summer a seven-member team from the LGA carried out an independent corporate peer review and drew up a series of recommendations to help the council on its “improvement journey.”

The latest three-day visit, which started on Wednesday (Jan 22) and concludes today (Fri), will involve input from council chief executive Jacqui Gedman (pictured) down to grassroots staff as well as members of the council’s decision-making Cabinet and planning committees.

Other individuals and bodies expected to take part include developers, planning agents, town centre developers, residents’ groups and activists’ groups.

Involvement in the review, which is not an inspection, is by invitation only.

Among those expected to attend is Cheryl Tyler, chairman of the campaign group Save Mirfield, which was successful in preventing pastureland at Balderstone Hall Fields in Mirfield being turned into a housing estate.

Save Mirfield is part of Kirklees Community Action Network (KCAN), an umbrella group of campaign groups across the borough.

“This is an opportunity for us to lay out our experiences over the last couple of years,” said Mrs Tyler.

“We want to ensure that they understand how we feel about the way that planning applications are dealt with.”

In an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service the council’s head of planning, Mathias Franklin, reached out to some residents and asked them to participate.

He wrote: “We have identified you as someone who interacted with the service areas and as such your input into the assessment is vitally important to help shape our service over the next few years.

“We are particularly interested in your role within community groups who may have made representations during either the Local Plan process or specific planning applications.”

Coun Rob Walker (Lab), the council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Environment, said: “Our teams are always looking at making sure the services they deliver are of the very best standard.

“This is best practice.

“Our planning department has invited the LGA to conduct a review, which will specifically look at this service. 

“They will look at how we deliver planning to residents, as well as developers and local community groups.”

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