THERE IS little that’s guaranteed to annoy council tax-payers more than a lack of consistency in planning decisions.

One of the biggest objections to the approval of planning permission for more than 400 homes at Sty Lane near Micklethwaite, for instance, was the huge pressure – from literally hundreds and hundreds of vehicles – that would be placed on narrow country lanes around the site and on a regularly-used canal swing bridge, which together have the potential to create traffic chaos.

Instead of recognising the genuine concerns of local residents over the very real road safety fears that loom over the development, Bradford Council was adamant this patch of green space should be built on, a position it defended twice at public inquiries, with the battle grinding on for nearly two decades.

In contrast last week, despite the recommendation of Council planning experts, members of the Regulatory and Appeals Committee voted unanimously to refuse an application for 23 properties on land in Kings Drive, off Livingstone Road, in Wrose.

The chief objection appeared to be that the development would generate an extra 60 cars that would need to travel along Wrose Road to join Canal Road.

Bizarrely, one of the arguments raised was that there were 2,600 new homes planned in the wider area so it would add to the anticipated traffic problems – as if all 60 cars would travel at the same time and make a big difference on top of the thousands already on their way.

Just to be clear, I’m not commenting here on the legitimacy and value of the Wrose residents’ concerns; they, no doubt, have genuine fears and the issue is very important to them.

No, my point is about the contrasting significance of those concerns and the weight applied to them in one circumstance compared with the other.

Of course, these were different councillors taking decisions years apart – but the basic facts are the same: in both cases, the council’s planning experts said the schemes should be approved because there were no grounds on which to refuse them.

But, in one case, councillors took the advice and went with the planners; in the other, they didn’t and instead chose to stick up for local residents.

Which brings us to another interesting decision – that of Bradford Council to ignore residents’ concerns and support the construction and operation of a £150 million waste-to-energy incinerator on the former gas works site alongside the Aire Valley trunk road at Marley, Keighley.

Disappointed campaigners have vowed to fight on after losing a court battle to have it over-turned by judicial review last week. They hope they can block the developers when they apply for an operating permit from the Environment Agency, when their fears about air pollution will have real purchase.

After the judge’s decision, a spokesman for Bradford Council said: "The council took this planning decision in good faith with regard to all the evidence presented to officers and councillors.

"Councillors have to operate within a legal framework, they cannot use personal views or beliefs to make a decision. Whatever the merits of a planning application, Bradford Council has to act according to strict planning regulations and the court agreed this has happened."

That chimes somewhat awkwardly with the decision regarding the homes in Wrose, where councillors chose to go against planning advice and reject the plans. Clearly, their personal feelings played a part; one councillor, for instance, stated he was “uncomfortable” with the application.

Of course councillors can use their opinions and beliefs when voting on these issues – if only to make it clear that the people they represent don’t like the idea. That’s what democracy is all about.

Representing such views is especially important in a situation where we’re not just talking about a few cars but deeply-held fears about the potential impact of dangerous fumes on the residents of the Aire Valley and beyond for decades.

When it comes to Bradford Council’s consistency in making planning decisions, it seems one man’s meat could literally be another man’s poison.

* Is Bantams stage now set for repeat performance?

CONGRATULATIONS to Simon Grayson on his appointment as Bradford City’s new manager.

Given that someone has to replace Stuart McCall, it seems Mr Grayson – who has led four clubs out of the third flight of English football – is a popular choice with many fans and a natural fit with a club poised to challenge for promotion after 18 months of consistent growth under a true Bantams hero.

We wish him every success in the coming weeks – while keeping everything crossed that lightning really can strike five times in the same place….

* New technology’s a good way to put the finger on suspects

I SHOULDN’T be too surprised at the online negativity that has greeted a new mobile fingerprint scanning device which is undergoing trials with West Yorkshire Police.

Over the next few weeks, the force is rolling out 250 of the devices which connect to officers’ smartphones and allow them to search records on both police and immigration databases and receive a photo and Police National Computer record of the individual by return.

Yes, of course they cost money – less than £300 each – but that is peanuts compared to the swathes of time-wasting bureaucracy that will be cut through as officers deal with appropriate offenders on the spot rather than having to drag them back to the station.

Surely, using technology to keep more policemen and women on the beat more of the time has to be a win-win for all of us?