DUP councillor raises concerns over potential declaration of interest of Alliance Party planning committee members

Concerns over Alliance Party declarations of interest in planning decisions have been raised at Lagan Valley Island council headquarters.
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The current planning committee of 11 councillors at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) has three Alliance members, including its current chairperson.

An allegation made in chambers has linked a planning objector, who has brought multiple legal applications against committee decisions, with the Alliance Party.

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Lisburn North DUP representative, Councillor Jonathan Craig said: “There have been concerns raised to me over a planning objector who has been behind numerous judicial reviews against this council.

Councillor Jonathan Craig raised concerns about declarations of interest by the Alliance Party. Pic credit: Lisburn and Castlereagh City CouncilCouncillor Jonathan Craig raised concerns about declarations of interest by the Alliance Party. Pic credit: Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
Councillor Jonathan Craig raised concerns about declarations of interest by the Alliance Party. Pic credit: Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

“I can’t undo the knowledge that I have been given.

“It has been made known to me that he works for the Alliance Party during elections, putting up posters.

“Should members of Alliance in the planning committee not be declaring their interests when this person is linked to applications?”

In 2022, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council was successful in having 17 of its own planning approvals quashed in concerns of new Stormont guidance on rural applications.

Alderman Martin Gregg denied any conflict of interests when concerns were raised by Councillor Jonathan Craig during a council Planning Committee meeting. Pic credit: Lisburn and Castlereagh City CouncilAlderman Martin Gregg denied any conflict of interests when concerns were raised by Councillor Jonathan Craig during a council Planning Committee meeting. Pic credit: Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
Alderman Martin Gregg denied any conflict of interests when concerns were raised by Councillor Jonathan Craig during a council Planning Committee meeting. Pic credit: Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council
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The person Mr Craig refers to had made his own legal proceedings in most of the applications, arguing the approvals breached planning policy for countryside development across a wider range of areas that merited judicial examination.

However, Mr Justice Scoffield said it would be unusual for the court to stand in the way of a public authority having its own decisions quashed on its own application.

He therefore dismissed the applications on the basis that they were “academic”.

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Planning committee chairman, Martin Gregg (Alliance) responded: “In relation to concerns raised by Councillor Craig earlier.

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“This person is a contractor who puts posters up for multiple parties.

“He is not a member of the Alliance Party and has no formal relationship with the party or its political representatives.

“He would put up party slogan posters and not councillors’ posters. As a contractor, councillors have no relationship with him.

“Alliance Party councillors of the planning committee consistently make planning decisions based on planning policy and not on Alliance Party policy. As such, I see no need to declare any interest where applications arise concerning this individual.”