Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Planning & Licensing

These are the two quasi-judicial committees of the council, making decisions about things that directly affect individuals and businesses rather than about policies that affect the whole borough or sections of it.  Stockton council, rightly in my opinion, insists that members should be trained in how to make these decisions properly in accordance with the law etc.  So today saw me sitting in a rather stuffy room with a couple of dozen other councillors being trained in Town & Country planning for the 9th year running.  I won't be sitting on Planning committee regularly but might occasionally substitute so training duly done.
Licensing on the other hand is something in which I have very little training, but the last few days have proved a steep learning curve.  The approach is very different - in this case it's perfectly OK to have meetings with the applicant in an effort to reach agreement before the committee sits.  And so tonight I went along to the Eagle Service Station in order to hear what the applicant had to say.  I discovered that they've reached agreement with the police on a licence for reduced hours (7 in the morning till midnight) instead of the 24 hours a day previously asked for.  But ward councillors and neighbours haven't been notified of that.  The applicant does seem genuinely interested in keeping problems away from his business so if the licence is awarded tomorrow morning we'll be trying to work with him and the police to try to make sure that problems don't arise from it.  It'll be an interesting experience to attend a licensing meeting for the first time, and to be able to represent residents directly.  Very different to 8 years on Planning committee.

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