William Eichler 04 March 2024

Mayor accused of pushing for unlawful planning committee change

Mayor accused of pushing for unlawful planning committee change   image
Image: benhouchen.com.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen and Simon Clarke MP have been accused of trying to pressure Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council's planning committee to act unlawfully by speeding up the planning process for British Steel.

Mayor Houchen and Mr Clarke MP wrote to the planning committee chair, Cllr Tristan Learoyd, requesting that British Steel's plans for an electric arc furnace at its Lackenby site be heard by committee on 7 March rather than 3 April.

They argued the project was ‘critical’ for Teeside and that there were ‘no procedural reasons’ why the application could not be heard on the earlier date.

In response, Cllr Learoyd accused the mayor and Mr Clarke of wishing to speed up the planning process due to ‘political expediency’, which he said was not allowed under Local Government Act 1972 100B 4b.

He added: ‘Sir Clarke and Lord Houchen may not have been briefed on the legislation, and be unaware that their request was not catered for by the Local Government Act. As such the request to move the planning date has been refused.’

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: 'Labour and Conservative councillors last week together agreed to allow for a decision to be made on the planning application by the committee on March 7, so as not to delay this investment and put it at risk. Regretfully a rogue councillor, and chairman of the committee, has refused to listen to democracy or the local community. Instead, he has chosen to delay and put at risk this important investment for what can only be political jealousy.

'All procedures relating to the planning process relating to this project have been followed in full and in line with guidance. I give a solid commitment that this will remain the case throughout.'

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