Quality status costs too much says Budleigh

PUBLISHED: 12:19 31 October 2009 | UPDATED: 12:13 10 June 2010

GREATER powers allowing Budleigh Salterton Town Council to have more control in the town have come with a hidden price tag – forcing members to hand back the privilege. The town council recently achieved Quality Council status – which allowed members to b

GREATER powers allowing Budleigh Salterton Town Council to have more control in the town have come with a hidden price tag - forcing members to hand back the privilege.

The town council recently achieved Quality Council status - which allowed members to bypass the district council and make decisions on Budleigh's tree and signage planning applications.

But now the council has been forced to turn its back on those powers - for fear the extra responsibility will cost Budleigh's taxpayers.

Members say the move was forced upon them by the district council's decision to move the goal posts.

Budleigh's mayor, Councillor Courtney Richards said, originally, the town council was under the impression East Devon District Council (EDDC) would underwrite the costs of any appeals.

But now EDDC says each Quality Council must pay for any disputes - or award of costs made by the planning inspectorate.

In a letter sent to Budleigh councillors by head of planning, Kate Little, EDDC said it was imposing the cost transfer after carrying out a review of existing Quality Councils - which had revealed 'teething troubles'.

The district council said it was prepared to set up the necessary training and lead councils through the early days of any process before leaving them to deal with the responsibilities and consequences.

Ms Little said: "Overall, it does allow those councils to influence both their natural environment and the appearance of the commercial heart of their settlement."

Budleigh mayor, Cllr Richards, said: "This is an apparent change of mind by EDDC, but does probably suggest that these applications are not as straightforward as had originally been thought by some other Quality Councils and that they have made decisions that resulted in EDDC having to bear the cost of dealing with appeals.

"If the town council took on the processing of these applications there would be increased work for our own staff with very little financial reward for the work done.

"Additionally, the staff and councillors would have to keep abreast of the myriad of planning legislation and any ongoing changes."

"The council felt that, as we already represent the local views by making comments to EDDC on all planning applications, there was little upside in taking on the processing of tree and sign applications and a potentially large financial and administrative downside.

"For these reasons, we felt it would be better to leave the processing of these applications with EDDC for the time being."

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