Local government has high standards of probity and public trust, and the current Richard Desmond episode demonstrates that good governance and the public interest is best achieved by respecting local decision making rather than seeking to override it.
Put bluntly, the public up and down country would rather see local choice on the types and quality of developments respected rather than derided by developer interests as ‘nimbyism’, especially given that the powers Parliament has vested in the Secretary of State to override local decisions appear to be inappropriately applied on occasion and open to abuse.
CIPFA hopes this sorry episode once and for all stops the periodic demands from developers to erode councils’ local planning powers. These calls are all too often clearly not in the public or local community interest, and falsely dress up developers’ desire for enhanced profit as a means of achieving more house building.
CIPFA as a guardian of ethical standards in the public sector calls on the government and all sector bodies to firmly rebut the appalling, and all too common, attitude of many developers to local democracy.
Rob Whiteman CBE is chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA)