Council criticised for 'lack of transparency' on planning applications
COMMENTS on planning applications should be displayed on Bolton Council's website again, residents and councillors have demanded.
The call was made at a heated area forum meeting in Blackrod.
The meeting, which is for residents of Horwich and Blackrod, was held at Blackrod Primary School and covered a number of areas, including controversial plans to build 1,700 homes on Horwich Loco Works.
In March this year The Bolton News reported on the outcry caused by Bolton Council's decision to no longer publish comments, either objecting to or in support of planning applications on the planning portal.
And the issue reared its head again at this evening's meeting as residents asked what the cost of the process would be.
Horwich resident Barry Jubb said: "I think it is appalling that objections are not put on the site - we are told the decision was made because of a lack of facilities, but when I submit an objection I receive an email back with a full transcript of what I have written.
"Why can't that be automatically uploaded onto the site?
"Councillors should be pushing for this."
Blackrod town councillor Stephen Laycock agreed, adding: "The most cost-effective solution is to put them automatically onto the website.
"I have been to several planning meetings where comments have been read out incorrectly and it doesn't help with transparency."
Ward councillor Ann Cunliffe pointed out that displaying the comments is not a "legal requirement" for the council, adding: "When we did display the comments it was a bonus that we had for some time, but we are not required to do it."
Fellow ward councillor Joyce Kellet added: "Because of the cutbacks we can't put every one online, but you can still go to the town hall to see them."
A spokesman for Bolton Council said that it is not the process of putting the comments online that is costly and time-consuming, but instead the process of examining each submission and redacting any personal or libellous material.