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POS rejects statements in Sunday Times article

Date: 18/12/2017

Mike Kiely, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Planning Officers Society, has written to the Sunday Times in response to a recent article.

"Rohan Silva's article in the Sunday Times is typical of that form of lazy journalism that takes a relatively isolated incident, adds a heavy dose of innuendo and concludes, with no real justification or evidence, that 'corruption is endemic in Britain's planning system'. Quite simply it is not. Where it does occur it is, in my experience, dealt with vigorously, as Mr Silva would have discovered if he had bothered to find out the facts around the Alpha Square incident that triggered his article.

The main point in his piece seems to be a call for a move to a zoning system because that would eradicate the risk of corruption. There are two problems with that theory. Firstly ,it doesn't remove the risk because zonings have to be made in the first place (read the Mahon Inquiry into corruption in the Irish planning system) and variations to zonings are always necessary - both are just as susceptible to corruption as any other permission system. Secondly, we used to have a zoning type system but it didn't work in our crowded island with its historic cities, towns and villages. We scrapped it for the system we have now because it provides a greater degree of flexibility, which by and large the development industry and communities prefer.

No system is perfect, because people are not perfect, but Britain's planning system takes its responsibilities and duties very seriously and pursues the highest levels of probity and integrity. Where there is evidence of corruption, my advice to those making such accusations has always been, "please go straight to the Police so that they can properly investigate it".

MikeKiely3web.jpg Mike Kiely


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