PLANNING: Reassert our democracy

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As a former parish councillor, I read the letter from James Grant (Northumberland Gazette, January 11) with interest.

I have been equally concerned about how the planning system appears to work in Northumberland and think that there are important implications.

The powers that planning officers seem to have been allocated put us into the area of democratic deficit.

The committee hearing the application consists of elected members who are accountable to those who cast their votes. It seems they are now facing pressure from unelected council officers to pass the officer’s recommendation on the nod for fear of consequences which may or may not happen.

This surely undermines the whole principle of local democratically accountable government.

In a democratic society we need to re-assert the primacy of the democratic process and avoid falling into the trap of letting unelected bureaucrats decide matters which have been called to committee for an open, transparent and accountable discussion, often because there are concerns about the recommendation in the first place.

John Gallon,

Dunstanburgh Road,

Craster