Councillor hopes resignation will allow him to represent the people of Raunds more

Cllr Lance Jones
Cllr Lance Jones

A councillor is hoping his resignation from the planning committee will allow him to represent the people of Raunds more.

Cllr Lance Jones represents Raunds’ Saxon ward on East Northants Council.

As part of his role as a district councillor, he is on several committees and working groups, including being on the council’s planning management committee for two years.

But Cllr Jones has decided to resign from the committee, announcing his decision on Twitter this week.

Cllr Jones said: “Obviously there have been and there are more controversial planning applications in the pipeline for Raunds.

“It’s not just Warth Park, there are others.

“The requirements of the members of the planning management committee are to enter into these meetings without having any form of pre-determination of what the facts are and how the decision should go.

“As a consequence of that, one tends to err on the side of caution so having approaches from different lobbying groups and individual members of the public who are residents of my ward who express concerns about things, there’s almost an ‘I can’t talk to you about it’ because that may put me at risk of pre-determination or such like and that seems to be undemocratic in my view.

“I would rather be in a position to campaign on behalf of my residents rather than not.”

Cllr Jones said Cllr Dorothy Maxwell regularly speaks at meetings on behalf of people in the Rushden Spencer ward and he wants to do more of this.

The Conservative councillor said: “I don’t ever see that on behalf of the residents of Saxon ward in Raunds so I want to free myself up to do that.

“I can’t do that and be a member of the planning management committee.”

Cllr Jones believes the recent approval of plans to extend Warth Park means the loss of a public amenity enjoyed by many.

Another development he has concerns about is plans for a large commercial facility to the rear of the newly built houses just off Brick Kiln Lane.

He believes people have bought these houses in good faith, yet they could soon have trucks and commercial traffic driving through the area if given the go-ahead.

While Cllr Jones says he has enjoyed being on the planning management committee, including taking time to prepare his questions, queries and contributions for meetings, he admitted: “Asking intelligent questions isn’t necessarily changing outcomes.”

He said he wants to be in a position where he can meet the expectations of the people he represents and he hopes that stepping down from the committee means he can be a more effective councillor.

Cllr Jones said council leader Steven North has accepted his resignation request, and he has informed the chairman of the planning committee and the other Raunds district councillors of his decision.

A spokesman for East Northants Council said: “The leader of the council is currently reviewing all committee memberships, as happens on an annual basis, and these will be announced after the annual meeting on 17 May.”