Councillor's removal from planning panel is explained

James Harrison

‘Stop wearing a tinfoil hat’ is the message to anyone suggesting underhand political motives are influencing the make-up of Maidenhead’s planning committee.

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside), the leader of the council, was speaking about the last minute removal of a councillor from the panel ahead of a key vote.

Cllr Derek Sharp (Con, Furze Platt) found out just before a decision was due to be made on the plans for a Hindu community centre on Wednesday, July 5, that he had been pulled from the decision-making body.

“I didn’t even know until I was going to vote, when I was told I wasn’t on the panel,” said Cllr Sharp.

Cllr Sharp’s removal seems to be a result of Cllr Claire Stretton’s (Ind. Con, Boyn Hill) defection from the ruling Conservative group last month.

Under the council’s political balance rules this means she was allowed to take a designated opposition seat on the panel.

This had previously been held by Cllr Sharp as no other opposition councillors had taken it, but meant he was automatically removed.

Cllr Dudley blamed a breakdown in communication on Cllr Sharp not being told ahead of the meeting.

Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor Residents’ Association, Old Windsor), leader of the council’s opposition, agreed with Cllr Dudley’s understanding of the rules.

Last month Cllr Sharp joined five other Conservative councillors in voting against the latest draft of the Borough Local Plan.

He has now been reinstated to the Panel at the expense of Cllr Paul Lion (Con, Boyn Hill).

Cllr Lion was not at the meeting on Wednesday, July 5, where Cllr Sharp spoke in support of the Hindu community centre would have backed it.


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