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Former Bradford plans panel chief quits Labour
7:00am Tuesday 12th June 2012 in News
The former chairman of a key planning panel has quit the Labour party after he was urged to cancel a meeting for political reasons on the day of the Bradford West by-election.
He told the Telegraph & Argus he was asked by former Labour and Council leader Ian Greenwood to cancel a planning panel as he wanted all Labour councillors out in the constituency as voters went to the polls on March 29. It contained two “emotive items” on the agenda, both of which were recommended for refusal.
These were change of use applications to allow bazaars selling mainly Asian goods at Tradex Bazaar, the former Shires Bathroom site in Beckside Road, and at Drummonds Mill, Lumb Lane – both of which are located within the Bradford West constituency.
Coun Robinson, who yesterday resigned the Labour whip, said following his return to the Council at the local elections nearly six weeks ago, he was led to believe he could continue as chairman of the planning panel. He later found out he had been replaced – something he sees as a direct response to his refusal to cancel the meeting.
Coun Robinson said he thought his position with the Labour group had become untenable. “I had a meeting with the Labour leadership and was told by Councillor David Green that it was because I was unsympathetic to Labour party requests on planning issues. You get lobbied by other councillors as chairman of planning, but I always say don’t speak to me about planning issues because they are non-political and we will make the decision based on planning issues only.
“If I had cancelled the meeting as requested then I would have been open to complaints about the planning process being whipped.”
He said he had been offered positions on the West Yorkshire Pension Fund and West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority, but had turned them down preferring to stay on as chairman of the planning panel.
He said he would continue to work hard for the people of Wyke as an independent councillor after making the decision to leave Labour.
Leader of the Council and Labour group, Councillor David Green, said there were “good reasons” why the decision was made to remove Coun Robinson from the committee and that the number of planning panels had been reduced from three to two, meaning one of the chairmen had to lose out.
“My recollection of the meeting with Councillor Robinson is not as stark as his recollection,” he said. “There were good reasons why the whip took the decision and I support him in that. The decision was not particularly based on the issues that Councillor Robinson has raised in his conversation with the Telegraph & Argus.”
The move leaves Labour with 44 seats out of the 90 on the Council.