West Thurrock lorry park agent in “secret meeting bid” with top planning councillor

THE PLANNING Agent for the controversial Titan lorry park in West Thurrock was “caught” last night attempting to broker an “anytime, anyplace,anywhere” meeting with the chair of the planning committee, cllr Terry Hipsey and the managing director of Industrial Chemicals Group, John Carver.

Last month, Brian Pooley of Heritage Planning Ltd spoke at Thurrock Council’s planning committee meeting. At the meeting, he was grilled by the chair, councillor Terry Hipsey about the meetings representatives of Industrial Chemicals Group and Titan Lorry Park Ltd had with council officers and members.

Cllr Hipsey asked him to reveal the names of officers and members involved in the discussions. Initially, Mr Pooley appeared reluctant. Eventually, he named council officers, Bill Newman and Andrew Millard.

Cllr Hipsey pressed him to name councillors who had been involved. Mr Pooley refused

Last night, YourThurrock contacted Mr Pooley. We asked him for his reasons why he had refused to name councillors.

He said: “The names of the councillors should be in the minutes of working group . I cannot name them off the top of my head but councillor Rice, for example, was one of them.”

YourThurrock asked Mr Pooley whether at any time since the planning meeting last month, had he made any communication with councillors from the planning committee.

Mr Pooley categorically stated that he had not.

YourThurrock then asked Mr Pooley why, in the light of documents in YourThurrock’s possession, he had e-mailed cllr Hipsey on Monday, October 18th, inviting him to meet the Managing Director of ICG Ltd John Carver stating: “We are willing to meet you at any..time, day or evening in a place of your choice.”

Mr Pooley hesitated for some considerable time. He questioned our sources and pointed out that this was a private conversation.

YourThurrock asked him that in the light of his previous statement, that he had not communicated with planning committee members, could he confirm or deny that this was not true and that he had communicated with cllr Hipsey on Monday October 18th.

Mr Pooley stated” I can neither confirm nor deny that such a communciation took place.”

Following the Collison report, which examined planning procedures at Thurrock Council, it is a fundamental part of Thurrock Council’s constitution that any meetings between council members and planning agents must have a council officer present.

Recommendation 10: “The Code of Conduct relating to Planning Matters.. to include the requirement that Members should not meet developers or agents for discussions without a Senior Planning Officer present”.

Last month, Thurrock Council’s planning committee voted in favour of a planning enforcement notice in respect of the “unauthorised” Titan lorry park in Oliver Road, West Thurrock.

It is anticipated that an update on the enforcement will be given at tomorrow (Thursday) nights meeting.

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