Voice4Deptford has been informed that members of the public who have registered to speak and to raise objections at the forthcoming Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) on June 9th, 2020, have only been allocated 5 minutes in total for each of the three RMA’s under discussion.
This loss of speaking rights by reducing the time available to a minimum at such a Strategic Planning Committee in our opinion goes against the spirit of the UK Governments recent instructions to local authorities in response to the Coronavirus pandemic with regards to meetings that they should provide provision for members of the public “to enable them to attend or participate in that meeting”.
Similarly the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) suggest local authorities “explore new ways of engaging with the public” and to avoid the perception that “anyone is trying to take advantage of the current situation to avoid proper scrutiny or public engagement”.
Whilst a joint statement by Just Space, CPRE London, Friends of the Earth and London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies is clear that “virtual planning meetings should be reliably live streamed on video, with speaking rights for public objectors / third party representatives, as with normal committee meetings”. Also that local authorities should produce a report setting out how, under the Covid-19 regulations, they “will follow best practice for the involvement of communities, particularly disadvantaged communities and those with less access to technology and broadband”.
Voice4Deptford can see no justification for the ‘5 minute speaking rule’ in the LB Lewisham’s document, ‘Proposed temporary changes to the Statement of Community Involvement during Covi19 Pandemic’, going to the LB Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet on June 10th. It makes no mention of the period of time available to those members of the public who have registered and wish to speak as an objector to the planning proposal in this case Convoys Wharf
We demand that members of the public speaking rights for this SPC are allocated sufficient time to allow their voices to be heard as per planning committees pre-Covid-19.
We ask that this item be placed onto the agenda as Item 1 for consideration by the Strategic Planning Committee.
Dr Roger Green