DRAFT PROTOCOL FOR COMPLAINTS IS REJECTED
A new document outlining how planning complaints are to be handled will return to the Wicklow County Council’s protocol committee after members’ views differed on its merit.
Following a presentation to members from Planning Department staff, the document was drawn up but a number of members expressed concerns about its contents on Monday.
Cllr Nicola Lawless said that she would not be voting for it and that the Sinn Fein party was seeking an independent regulator to deal with such matters.
‘I believe that this is a matter for the employer and not the chamber. If a complaint goes to the CPG (Corporate Policy Group), I don’t think it is required to look at evidence and decide if it is a criminal or a civil matter. It is my job as a public representative to ask the right questions and this looks like we are investigating ourselves so I cannot stand over this. If this is passed today I will be seeking further advice,’ Cllr Lawless said.
Cllr Michael O’Connor said that what was proposed is like the CPG being ‘judge and jury in its own case’.
‘ This would be seen by the public as the council investigating itself. It is the function of the DPP to decide if a matter is criminal or not.’
Cllr Tom Fortune described the proposal as being ‘undemocratic and a dangerous process,’ adding that ‘ the CPG wouldn’t have competency in this area and it seems like a mistake to be seen to be keeping a lid on everything and sorting it out ourselves.’
Similarly Cllr Irene Winters said that a ‘common sense approach’ is needed but that unless any allegation can be substantiated, it should not be made within the chamber but also that they should not be ‘ buried in legalistic nothingness’.
Cllr John Snell said that he ‘did not want to send out a message that Wicklow County Council is different’ in terms of procedures from other authorities but said that it is time that unfounded allegations from ‘a few mouthpieces’.