Councillors cut from process to stop 'closed door' decisions
COUNCILLORS will be cut from development discussions as part of a suite of new Ipswich City Council measures to improve accountability and stop decisions being made behind closed doors.
An Independent Decision Review Panel will be established and a new procedure set for the council to deal with development applications.
"The framework includes a repeal of a number of existing policies, a new policy, and a number of draft new and changed procedures,” acting city planner Brett Davey said.
"The new framework is substantially more transparent and efficient for processing the majority of applications, and will redirect resources which are currently dedicated to administering the current consultation processes into a more transparent governance system whereby the right types of development applications and matters are reviewed by committee and decided by council.
"Appropriate information will be provided to guide this process, including, in some instances, a prior review of recommended decisions by an Independent Decision Review Panel.”
Mr Davey said existing procedures were unreliable, could cause inconsistencies and stakeholder confusion.
He said the previous system, where each development application could be sent to up to multiple councillors - including the mayor, committee chair, divisional councillor and adjoining divisional councillors - could affect a decision.
Councillor influence on decision making behind closed doors via internal emails or other forms of communication was a risk under the previous system.
The new system is designed to improve transparency, and focus on decisions being made either by officers or at a full council meeting.
The new framework will start on July 1 and the new Independent Decision Review Panel is planned to follow from September 2.
Interim administrator Greg Chemello has revealed the council will overhaul its "ancient” planning scheme; the key document to managing growth and communities.
Mr Davey said the new development procedures would be a "major improvement” on the governance and processes surrounding the development assessment system of Ipswich City Council.