Misleading effectiveness

Funny how an increase in apparent efficiency can be so misleading in terms of effectiveness - since East Devon District Council s Vanguard System was rolled out on October 1, 2008, despite public criticism covered by the Journal.

Funny how an increase in apparent efficiency can be so misleading in terms of effectiveness - since East Devon District Council's Vanguard System was rolled out on October 1, 2008, despite public criticism covered by the Journal. The planning proposal acceptance rates have sky-rocketed and over 93% of applications are now accepted - yippee for the planners.

Look at the statistics for the first year of operation (or 'EDDC's criteria for success'): only around 6% of applications are now refused; the number of appeals lodged has more than halved; the appeals inspector allowed a smaller percentage of these appeals than ever before; only one lot of appeal costs had to be paid by EDDC. The council must be cock-a-hoop at such improved productivity.

But these figures lend support to claims from local people that EDDC railroads applications through the Vanguard Planning System, irrespective of adopted national policies (including AONB). Indeed, they even appear not to heed international policies about World Heritage Sites, as letters have commented upon recently.

So a resounding success then for Vanguard Systems Thinking - increased development swells the Community Charge coffers; fewer letters of objection from residents removes hassle and eases the planners' workload; fewer appeals and fewer over-rulings reduces costs paid to appellants by EDDC - just as well when, last year, EDDC had to pay almost �70,000 compensation following a verdict of maladministration by the Local Government Ombudsman!


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Perhaps EDDC should not be so chuffed about the 'success' of Vanguard if their improved efficiency means that it is now so easy to accept 93% or so of development applications. Surely some simple algorithms built into a basic computer programme could enable applications to be scanned without recourse to human intervention, with instant decisions made - no need for a planning department then.

Perhaps to protect their job security and pensions, site notices and Journal announcements had better be reinstated, which would result in some wonderful spin-offs for residents, for example reinstatement of transparency and democracy to the planning process; improvement in PR for planners from greater public engagement in matters which affect them and from the reduced generation of 'Letters to the Editor' lambasting EDDC.

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K?E?Coyne,

(via email).

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