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West Northamptonshire Councillor suspended for 'improperly' taking pre-determined position on application

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West Northamptonshire Councillor suspended for 'improperly' taking pre-determined position on application.

Cllr Phil Bignell could be asked to undertake "individual training" following the incident last November.

The council decided to santion a councillor after a panel found he deliberately used his position to block a contentious planning application in his ward. Councillor Phil Bignell will be banned from sitting on two West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) planning committees for three months starting on 1 June 2023.

WNC’s democracy and standards sub-committee agreed he predetermined his opposition to an application for 45 homes in Flore, which is in his Long Buckby ward, before a planning meeting in November. Documents show that a senior WNC planning officer told external standards investigators that she believed the applicant, East Haddon-based Cora Homes, would appeal the rejection and potentially take it to an expensive public inquiry following the Daventry planning committee meeting.

Cllr Bignell will be suspended as a member of WNC’s strategic planning committee, which he chairs, and its planning policy committee until September. The panel also recommended that Cllr Bignell undertakes “individual training” during that period. He has 20 days to appeal. Chuong Phillips, WNC's principal planning officer, told the investigators that she found November's planning meeting "disappointing" and what happened was "not normal procedure".

"If the behaviour of the authority is considered to be unreasonable or the decision is unreasonable then the authority is liable to costs. In this case I believe the application is going to appeal and the applicants are looking to take the application to a public inquiry," Ms Phillips said.

Soure: (Northants Live and Planning Resource)

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