Committee chairman lodges complaint against Milton Keynes Council chief executive over “disrespect” and “obstruction”

Aerial picture of the house in Willen
Aerial picture of the house in Willen

A committee chairman has launched an unprecedented attack on his own council’s officers over the way a planning enforcement issue is being handled.

Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) has lodged an official complaint against Milton Keynes Council’s chief executive for being “disrespectful to me, to my committee, to the residents” over the issue of a house built too large in Willen.

He also claimed that council officers had been obstructive in compiling a report to the council’s Development Control Committee earlier this year.

Cllr Bint wrote: “It seems to me that the brevity of your letter is disrespectful to me, to my committee, to the residents… and to the seriousness of the issues.” Mr Bracey’s reply contains just three sentences.

Cllr Bint continued: “I was disappointed by the officer report to August Development Control Committee. I was even more disappointed by the officer obstruction to a less ambiguous request in September for a detailed report that would support detailed decision-making by DCC in October. And I don’t think it’s acceptable that you’ve ignored these points and virtually everything else in my letter.”

Residents living near the controversial property are also understood to be preparing to launch their own official complaint, saying work is continuing to take place at the house without planning consent

And as the controversial issue rumbles on and on, the owner has also launched an appeal to the Government against the council’s enforcement action.

Earlier this year Cllr Bint sent a five page document to council officers detailing the way officers were going about enforcing planning rules against the owner of 42, Portland Drive. A bungalow was given permission to be replaced by a house, and the owner built it beyond what he was allowed.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has seen copies of the correspondence, and Mr Bracey’s reply.

Cllr Bint told the LDRS that he is “willing to run the risk of upsetting officers” because his first responsibility is to the residents.

“We shouldn’t be in a situation where officers and citizens are not on the same side of the debate,” he said.

Milton Keynes Council’s planning department, already under the microscope over the issue of a giant warehouse in Blakelands, is in the process of improving public confidence.

“We have to have an enforcement system citizens can trust, or you get a situation where people just build what they like, and anarchy,” Cllr Bint said.

Cllr Bint added that the council’s planning officers used to “say yes to everything” and therefore had less of a need for enforcement department. This, he said, allowed the council to build up financial reserves.

Milton Keynes Council confirmed that it has received Cllr Bint’s complaint.