Belfast City Council vote to record Planning Committee meetings.

This issue has been a hotly debated topic since the new Belfast super council was elected in May 2014 and has come before council no less than three times.

However, last night the council voted by the slimmest of margins 28 for to 27 against to allow planning committee meetings to be recorded and made available to the public. The proposal was brought by the Alliance party.

Before the vote, members of the publc were able to attend the planning committee meetings.

Here is the party breakdown of how they voted


Alliance, Sinn Fein, Green Party and People Before Profit.


DUP, UUP, PUP, SDLP and an Independent Unionist (Ruth Patterson).

Those arguing against the proposal cited legal advice that they had recieved urging council not to do this due the sensitive information that a Planning Committee has to consider as part of their deliberations and the quasi judicial function the Committee performs in determining applications. My understanding was that this advice was given orally.

Other councils in Northern Ireland such as Mid-East Antrim Borough Council record their planning committee meetings. Moreover, parties like Alliance, stressed the importance of transparency in dealing with these issues.

An interesting side note is that 3 SDLP Councillors were absent last night when the vote was being taken, had they been there it would have been defeated (30-28).

Anyway, a bright day for democracy or a case of fools rushing in?


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  • chrisjones2

    Shocking. Why now one might be able to trace if a Councillor, for example, has left the room when a matter was being discussed and therefore didn’t need to declare her lovers interest

    Some time back too I complained to my local Councillor about a planning decision. He was very sympathetic and promised he would do what he could. It was a very nice letter but on checking the Planning Committee Minutes I found that he had seconded the proposal to accept the plan and had been heavily promoting it.

    Guess what party he was from?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Disappointed that the PUP voted against. It is the Inner City Communities who will take the biggest hits from the Developers Plans of Wiping them out ! Ah well they can answer that question once they come around knocking at the doors looking for votes from them people !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, SNAP!!!!………

  • Zig70

    This is the main area that brings councils into disrepute with the public. They do realise that every party who votes against are presumed to have their fingers in the till. Shame on them.

  • chrisjones2


  • chrisjones2

    …but soon they wont be there any more so it doesn’t matter

    As a politician that is the beauty of it

  • T.E.Lawrence The Streets of Sandy Row. Watch Carol Hamilton and her views on Planners, Developers and Politicians. Girl of my own heart !

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    So, does this mean we have no way of finding out the details of meetings such as the ones that decided the fate of the Orpheus and the northern quarter?

    It’s a pity for I should very much like to hear what was said apart from the word “cowp!!!”…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Lawrence, are you interested in putting the planning dept and developers on the spot if such an opportunity arose?

  • T.E.Lawrence

    I am interested in Planning Depts and Developers seeking approval from local inner city communities not this railroad crap and secret deals over the heads of these people !

  • SeaanUiNeill

    You may say that, I couldn’t possibly comment. Oh, by the way the old Larne council in my case.

  • Granni Trixie

    I wonder in voting (or not turning up) did any politician declare a conflict of interest? For example, are any of them developers themselves?

  • Kevin Breslin

    If the committee is a quasi-judicial function if someone was brought before the courts as well on a planning issue is there any chance that rather than assist in accountability, public access to the second function may prejudice their case and ensure their freedom?

    In terms of sensitive information is there any precedence in businesses profiteering on insider information they may have access to from a court hearing or quasi-judicial function, and is there any illegality if they do?

  • chrisjones2

    What can I say. When Larne was the main port it was always said that they kept it that way to immediately depress anyone arriving in NI

  • chrisjones2

    Have you ever tried to keep a mistress / toyboy on Councillors expenses alone?

  • aquifer

    I have heard rumblings of local planning corruption from more than one source, even before councillors had the say so, so anything that provides transparency is useful.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Their sterling work in giving Larne its unique profile has possible uses for those of us still trying to scrape an honest groat after “bus pass” age. My wife considered setting up a biker’s cafe trading in on one of Larne’s many claims to fame in the prospective name: “A Grim Wee Place.”

    Larne’s long fame as a local centre of culinary excellence has already been celebrated in the surprisingly creative decision by the old Larne Council to combine the forms of the traditional Chef’s high hat with the Crown Imperial in that strangely distended roundabout “decoration” travellers to the Glynnes encounter when they first leave the dual carrigeway. I wish they had been clearer about this intention as at first I thought it had been erected by local Republican interests as a conscious sneer at Larne’s unquestioned devotion to the Royals, as, for anyone with any sense of aesthetic proportion, ithe “sculpture” is far too misshapen a representation to ever be mistaken for a serious tribute!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Or married to families with developer interests, or regularly socialising in such a circle. There are many less direct ways in which a representative may be compromised in their loyalties on such matters without actually being developers themselves.

  • Croiteir

    Leave my home town alone – its a great wee town

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And that unique “Chef’s Hat” is a great asset, but I’m not quite sure what it’s an asset for!

  • Croiteir

    It is – any suggestion we are compensating for something is just terrible