The Daily Mail reports that "ludicrous" planning rules which restrict councillors from taking part in planning decisions will be scrapped. This covers the predetermination rules and also clarification of ehat constitutes a prejudicial interest.
The report says:
But some authorities have interpreted them in such a broad way that councillors were warned they could not comment on a proposed park-and-ride scheme because they owned a car or could be disqualified from discussing a site for a phone mast because they use a mobile.
Local Government Minister Grant Shapps wants to make 2011 "the year of councillor power." He says:
"It is ridiculous that a community can vote for someone standing on a particular issue, only for that person to be barred from talking about it once in office. Councillors must be given the freedom to properly represent the views of their constituents.
"The Localism Bill will do just that. It will end the nonsense surrounding predetermination rules that have left councillors up and down the country confused and concerned about whether voicing an opinion on an issue of local importance will lead to charges of bias.’
"We are placing councillors centre stage in their communities with more clout than ever before to get things done for the people they serve. 2011 will truly be the year of councillor power.
"That’s why I want to encourage a new generation of community champions to put their names on the ballot paper for May’s local elections."