A planning committee member who was against approving the new Spalding travellers’ site was legally advised not to take part in the vote.
Coun Anthony Casson – ward member for Moulton, Weston and Cowbit – was told it was best not to vote after he had firmly declared his opposition to the plan at a public meeting in Cowbit.
Planning committee members should not declare their vote intention before the meeting at which the plan is discussed.
As it turned out, his vote would have been significant. The result was 6-6 and his vote would have seen the proposition to grant permission lost.
As it was, it went to the committee chairman’s casting vote and Coun Roger Gambba-Jones indicated that he was in favour of the plan.
Had the approval proposition been lost, a further one could have been made to refuse the plan or defer it for further talks.
Speaking directly after the meeting, Coun Casson told The Voice: “I was disappointed that I couldn’t vote.”
And referring to his fears over drainage of the site: “It’s not called Clay Lake for no reason! The drainage issue will be terrible.
“I now regret going to that (Cowbit) meeting. If I hadn’t, it would have made it possible for me to vote against the plan tonight.”
Explaining the background to the position, Coun Gambba-Jones said: “It’s one thing to campaign about development, it’s quite another to declare your opposition in principle to it.
“You can be minded to be against but you need to retain an open mind to persuasion during the debate.
“By declaring that you are against the principle of development, you then fetter yourself on making an informed decision at the meeting.”