Posted: Wed 13th Oct 2021

Flintshire politician rebuked over ‘completely inappropriate’ criticism of council officials

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

A Flintshire politician has been rebuked after criticising the performance of council officials.

Cllr Patrick Heesom, who represents Mostyn, took aim at Flintshire Council’s planning department at a virtual meeting held this week.

It came as he challenged the local authority’s decision to appoint an external company to provide a new planning software system.

The leader of the New Independents group said it called into question whether senior planning officers needed to be replaced.

However, he was censured by the council’s chief executive Colin Everett, who described the comments as “completely inappropriate”.

Cllr Heesom

Speaking at the start of Tuesday’s (October 12, 2021) meeting of the authority’s environment and economy scrutiny committee, Cllr Heesom said: “The planning service is indispensable in the council, and at the moment there is concern that it is not delivering as it should.

“Both the chair and the cabinet member confirmed those concerns at the last meeting.

“We do have to ask ourselves, now that we’re into a position where we’re taking on another tier of external monitors, whether we have got the right leadership in place here.”

Cllr Heesom was interrupted by committee chair Rosetta Dolphin who questioned the relevance of his comments, which were made during a discussion on the minutes of its last meeting.

She said the purpose was only to confirm their accuracy and not to bring up new matters.

Mr Everett said Cllr Heesom’s microphone would have to be silenced if he made further remarks.

Addressing Cllr Dolphin, the chief executive said: “You’ve ruled Cllr Heesom to be out of order to raise matters arising and he’s drifting considerably into unevidenced comments.

“If he doesn’t discontinue them, we will have to put him on mute because he’s overruling your authority as chair.

“I’m sorry to be blunt but those comments are completely inappropriate.

“He should not be questioning leadership in that way in a public meeting without any report before him, so Patrick please follow that advice.”

The issue was also addressed by the council’s chief planning officer Andrew Farrow.

He said the new software was being introduced to make the planning system easier to use.

He said: “I think Cllr Heesom is referring to our use of consultants to prepare our new back office system.

“There was a presentation at the last meeting by Agile, who are going to be providing that system, and we’re going to roll that out to members.

“I don’t know whether Cllr Heesom stayed for that part of the agenda or not.

“I think all members found it would be a much more effective system in terms of the delivery of the planning system.”

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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