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RTPI response to the Telegraph

11 March 2013

Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: "The RTPI's view is planning advice is always best provided by Chartered Town Planners who are quality controlled for professional competence, bound by an ethical code of conduct and stringent requirements to keep their knowledge up to date.

Proper planning is about the transparent balancing the planning issues and not who you know.

Planning committees themselves are rightly seen to be one of the most open and accountable parts of our democratic process. They are held in public with all parties knowing what evidence is relied upon, who made what representation, what the officer recommended and which way councillors voted. The appeal system is equally transparent.

Nearly 500,000 planning applications were made in England alone last year, and government rules clearly state that councillors should not participate in discussions or votes where they have a financial interest."

None of the councillors mentioned by the Telegraph on the 11 March are members of the Institute or of our Politicians in Planning network (PIPA).

DCLG response

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "This Government has increased accountability and transparency over councillors' interests, to accompany greater power and freedoms for local councils.

"Councils should adopt a code of conduct that reflects the Nolan principles on conduct in public life, with councillors declaring any private interest that relates to their public duties, and councillors must take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

In addition, it is now a criminal offence to fail to declare or register disclosable pecuniary interests - which includes any employment or trade carried for profit or gain. The register of councillors' interests must be published online by the council.

Councillors should act in an open and transparent way, to avoid conflicts of interest on issues such as planning applications or benefiting financially from the issuing of council contracts."