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Shropshire council in stand-off with Local Ombudsman

Oswestry Borough Council has fallen foul of the Local Ombudsman over its response to criticsm from the watchdog over its handling of planning permission for a new bungalow on the edge of a Shropshire village.

The property was for a family with a disabled child. Councllors approved the scheme even though it breached local plan policies and was against the advice of officers.

The watchdog reported that the councillors had failed to justify their decision and concluded that the planning authority’s actions amounted to maladministration. The council was recommended to compensate complainants who were unhappy that the bungalow meant they were no longer living in open countryside.

The council has not fulfilled all the recommendations requested by the Ombudsman who has criticised the council and accused it of failing to understand "its responsibilities as a local planning authority".

The watchdog complained that the council’s "continuing intransigence" was "disappointing". He added: "I remain unconvinced by its reasons for not implementing my recommendations in full."

The council said it would consider the Ombudsman's latest report but made it clear that members were unrepentant. Councillor David Lloyd, the council leader, said: "Councillors will now consider the report that confirmed the view of members of the development committee that there is no fundamental right to a view but that in going against the advice of the planning officers they appear to have been influenced by the medical needs of the child rather than restricting themselves to the planning merits of the case and did not fully consider the issue of alternative sites."

He added: "It is a case of a line on a map having greater relevance than what members concluded was a way of accommodating the exceptional needs of a young child without uprooting the whole family".

The watchdog has no powers to enforce its recommendations.

Read the Local Government Ombudsman’s press release


Roger Milne

30 October 2008

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