Fury as Bolton Council stops putting objections to planning applications online

Bolton Council's planning website

Bolton Council's planning website

First published in Politics
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

FURIOUS protesters have accused Bolton Council of “stifling democracy” after bosses made the decision to stop publishing objections to planning applications online.

Letters of support and objection were automatically published on the council’s website alongside consultations and details of applications.

But Bolton Council has taken the decision to axe the facility to help the development and regeneration department meet more than £2 million worth of cuts.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “Many local authorities, including other Greater Manchester councils, have never provided this service.

“We would like to reassure the public that this does not affect the consultation process and people can still make comments on planning applications, which are considered accordingly.

“We are now looking to provide information by responding to specific requests to view third party representations.

“Advice and information on how to do this is available on our website and neighbour notification letters, which we still send out as before.

“Through-out the course of the application we will still be publishing all statutory and technical consultee responses and further information provided by the applicant, so people have as much information as possible to decide if they want to make any comments on the proposal.”

The council said the move was taken to save time and cut down on admin costs — and stressed the letters are still included in members’ bundles and available to see at the town hall.

But critics argue that viewing the letters is more time-consuming and that people are less aware when viewing an application that it has been met with local opposition.

Cllr David Wilkinson, a Westhoughton town councillor who served on Bolton Council’s planning committee for 17 years until 2012, said the council was “salami-slicing” the planning process.

Town coun-cillors now have to specifically request to see objection letters if they want to take them into account when making recommendations to planning officers.

At a Horwich Town Council meeting, residents questioned how wise it was to remove objection letters during a debate on plans to develop land off Cotswold Drive. Cllr Ken Denton said: “I am aware that there are cuts being made, but this is going too far, what has happened to transparency?

“At Horwich we may not make the final decisions but our recommendations have to be taken into account and we can’t make recommendations if we don’t have the full picture.”

Cllr Wilkinson said the absence of objections may stop people from raising concerns if they think they may be the only opponent.

He added: “The reason we put stuff online is that people could not always get the papers from the town hall.

“These are public documents but no one apart from the objector or the person at the town hall will ever see them.”

The council said its One Stop Shop and Access Bolton services have specially trained staff who deal with most general planning queries and will pass more specific questions on to planning case officers.

Comments (17)

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9:53am Tue 11 Mar 14

Mick England says...

I wonder who this will benefit?
I wonder who this will benefit? Mick England
  • Score: 19

10:12am Tue 11 Mar 14

Marzi30 says...

I object !!!
I object !!! Marzi30
  • Score: 14

11:01am Tue 11 Mar 14

Wolfie190 says...

Very sneaky of the already discredited planning dept.
Very sneaky of the already discredited planning dept. Wolfie190
  • Score: 13

12:37pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Tim Burr says...

"Cllr Wilkinson said the absence of objections may stop people from raising concerns if they think they may be the only opponent."

Bolton Council hasn't really done democracy in recent times. For too long the Council has been an autocracy run by a man who could have given the late illusionist Richard De Vere a run for his money.
"Cllr Wilkinson said the absence of objections may stop people from raising concerns if they think they may be the only opponent." Bolton Council hasn't really done democracy in recent times. For too long the Council has been an autocracy run by a man who could have given the late illusionist Richard De Vere a run for his money. Tim Burr
  • Score: 10

12:45pm Tue 11 Mar 14

cliff4treasurer says...

Democracy & Bolton council? Not in the same sentence please!
Democracy & Bolton council? Not in the same sentence please! cliff4treasurer
  • Score: 19

12:48pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Balboa says...

Just because other councils don't do it, doesn't make it right. I imagine plenty others do post them - afraid to stand alone are we? Typical labour rhetoric.
Just because other councils don't do it, doesn't make it right. I imagine plenty others do post them - afraid to stand alone are we? Typical labour rhetoric. Balboa
  • Score: 11

2:08pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Changing times says...

Ultimately the people responsible for the rapid decline of Bolton are the three Cllrs in charge ........ Morris, Thomas & Peel.

Please resign now.
Ultimately the people responsible for the rapid decline of Bolton are the three Cllrs in charge ........ Morris, Thomas & Peel. Please resign now. Changing times
  • Score: 17

3:39pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Rememberscarborough says...

Why can't the council join the real world and allow objections to be posted online? Obviously, you would need to provide details to confirm that you were a resident and eligible to object but this shouldn't be an issue in this day and age. I suspect this is just a case of councillors thinking they know what's best for us and wanting to remove any possible form of disagreement.
Why can't the council join the real world and allow objections to be posted online? Obviously, you would need to provide details to confirm that you were a resident and eligible to object but this shouldn't be an issue in this day and age. I suspect this is just a case of councillors thinking they know what's best for us and wanting to remove any possible form of disagreement. Rememberscarborough
  • Score: 9

5:34pm Tue 11 Mar 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

Another way of boltons labour run council hiding things from the public it has even happened in Horwich with some minutes on confidential papers the public have a right to know whats happening!
Another way of boltons labour run council hiding things from the public it has even happened in Horwich with some minutes on confidential papers the public have a right to know whats happening! steverock6@sky.com
  • Score: 6

8:46pm Tue 11 Mar 14

lindlandl says...

What a surprise! Next we won't even be allowed to object at all! Perhaps they are kindly just encouraging us not to waste our time. When conditions are not complied with we are told that they have been. If they eventually concede that they have not been met, they tell us that it is not 'expedient' (this is, in fact one particular officer's favourite word) to insist on compliance. If we didn't believe that these people were beyond reproach we might start to think they were actually working for some of the developers.
What a surprise! Next we won't even be allowed to object at all! Perhaps they are kindly just encouraging us not to waste our time. When conditions are not complied with we are told that they have been. If they eventually concede that they have not been met, they tell us that it is not 'expedient' (this is, in fact one particular officer's favourite word) to insist on compliance. If we didn't believe that these people were beyond reproach we might start to think they were actually working for some of the developers. lindlandl
  • Score: 7

10:11pm Tue 11 Mar 14

frank bough says...

Doubt The Bolton News are happy either as they cant easily add quotes to news articles now.

I once made an objection, it was put online, and they used my quotes in an article. Would have been nice to have been asked too.
Doubt The Bolton News are happy either as they cant easily add quotes to news articles now. I once made an objection, it was put online, and they used my quotes in an article. Would have been nice to have been asked too. frank bough
  • Score: 5

9:51pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Brumas says...

This is all smoke and mirrors by Bolton MBC and is hogwash, If you object, electronically via the planning application page you get an automatic reply from the planning department. Which copies your objection/support into the email. You could also at one time track all documents added to the document list, again automatically, now you only get informed of all statutory and technical consultee responses and further information provided by the applicant. Which again is untrue, because no neighbour comments are available to read. All in all this is in favour of the applicants, usually Big Business. Shame on you Bolton MBC.
This is all smoke and mirrors by Bolton MBC and is hogwash, If you object, electronically via the planning application page you get an automatic reply from the planning department. Which copies your objection/support into the email. You could also at one time track all documents added to the document list, again automatically, now you only get informed of all statutory and technical consultee responses and further information provided by the applicant. Which again is untrue, because no neighbour comments are available to read. All in all this is in favour of the applicants, usually Big Business. Shame on you Bolton MBC. Brumas
  • Score: 6

9:53pm Wed 12 Mar 14

Brumas says...

Sorry, so in reality we are only talking hand written objections/comments the could be done automatically, no manpower needed.
Sorry, so in reality we are only talking hand written objections/comments the could be done automatically, no manpower needed. Brumas
  • Score: 3

1:40am Thu 13 Mar 14

BoltonLancs says...

Peel and Morris getting the heat from supermarkets.

.....lmfao! We know it...

Leaders of Bolton Council are corrupt.!!!... sue me... :)
Peel and Morris getting the heat from supermarkets. .....lmfao! We know it... Leaders of Bolton Council are corrupt.!!!... sue me... :) BoltonLancs
  • Score: 5

1:43am Thu 13 Mar 14

BoltonLancs says...

...sorry.. "Leaders"
...sorry.. "Leaders" BoltonLancs
  • Score: 2

8:16pm Thu 13 Mar 14

boydell says...

When is the council going to have the speed cameras reinstalled at the greenwood pub on Chorley New road.
It would save that poor chap sitting in his speed detector car (usually hiding behind a van) with paper up against the driver side of the car, hiding his face from view. He does not know that most of Horwich knows he is there, sometimes he tries to confuse us by parking across the road. He is only short of hanging a flag out of the telescopic pole on top of his car to let the chap travelling 32 mph know he is lurking thereabouts.
When is the council going to have the speed cameras reinstalled at the greenwood pub on Chorley New road. It would save that poor chap sitting in his speed detector car (usually hiding behind a van) with paper up against the driver side of the car, hiding his face from view. He does not know that most of Horwich knows he is there, sometimes he tries to confuse us by parking across the road. He is only short of hanging a flag out of the telescopic pole on top of his car to let the chap travelling 32 mph know he is lurking thereabouts. boydell
  • Score: 4

12:02am Mon 24 Mar 14

holloway_david says...

1984! Big Brother ( Councillor Morris) democracy personified within this decision. I reckon the councillors are piqued about pensions and maybe their allowances are not big enough to give any time to planning. Whatever the truth of the matter , this is a disgrace.
1984! Big Brother ( Councillor Morris) democracy personified within this decision. I reckon the councillors are piqued about pensions and maybe their allowances are not big enough to give any time to planning. Whatever the truth of the matter , this is a disgrace. holloway_david
  • Score: 3

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