“Some improvement needed” on Local Plan


An auditors report into the development of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan has given it mixed reviews.

The Local Plan aims to create planning policies for West Lindsey and neighbouring councils for the next 25 years.

The first Highlight Report from Lincolnshire Audit said with the governance of the Local Plan it “found effective arrangements in place.”

“An appropriate structure is in place to govern delivery of the Local Plan and there is evidence that this is effective in practice,” it said.

“Roles and responsibilities are defined in terms of reference and there is evidence showing these are followed in the approval of key decisions.

“A Local Development Scheme is in place which provides a timetable for delivery of the Local Plan in compliance with legislation.

“Delivery of the Local Plan is monitored and reported on a regular basis throughout the governance structure.

“Information presented is reliable, complete and accurate,” it also said.

However, the report said effective decision making was being hampered by a lack of senior staff from the various councils attending meetings on the plan, with more junior staff taking their place.

For Project Management, Audit Lincolnshire also reported “Some Improvement Needed.”

“The risk of not having a five-year housing land supply should be added to the strategic risk register to ensure that there is regular formal and transparent monitoring and reporting on this risk and the progress made in reducing the risk,” it said.

Communication and information sharing between the councils involved in developing the plan must also improve.

The report, by Principal Auditor Rachel Abbott, was presented to West Lindsey District Council’s Governance and Audit Committee last Thursday.

Ms Abbott told members further Highlight Reports will cover issues including stakeholder involvement, budget management, staffing and resources.

At the meeting, Coun Lesley Rollings (Lib-Dem, Thonock) questioned if enough senior staff were attending meetings.

“This is not just part of your day job. This is going to affect communities for years to come,” she told the officers present.

Coun Rollings also noted a 3.5-year housing land supply is likely to become five when the plan is completed, But “the risk is huge” it won’t.

Coun Malcolm Leaning (Lib Dem, Nettleham) recalled a previous Core Strategy had failed and asked if the new plan was “following rules that would be approved by a (government) inspector.” But Ms Abbott replied “there are no rules to stick to” and “all you can go on is what’s right for your area.”

Coun Dave Dobbie (Lib-Dem, Gainsborough North) also queried how the plan’s development was to be scrutinised.

Committee chairman Giles McNeill (Con, Nettleham) said when West Lindsey “decided to pool its authority” on the plan, “we also abrogated that scrutiny function.”

Resources Director Ian Knowles added when a Joint Committee for Central Lincolnshire was set up, that committee became responsible for its scrutiny.