Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Why do planning fees rise as the workload reduces?

On the same day as it was announced that Pizza Hut was to close several branches with immediate effect, resulting in substantial job losses, it was also announced that Environment Minister Sammy Wilson was said to have approved a 20% increase in planning fees to ensure jobs in the Planning Service.



It appears there has been a decrease in revenue from £4.5m on last year’s takes of £21m, a 20% drop. The percentage rise in fees equates with their drop in workload.

In all other sectors, when the situation has shown a downturn in business due to economic circumstances, the company involved has no other option but to make some or all of their employees redundant and then close.

When money is scarce our nurses are thinned out, 700 posts to go over the spectrum according to the most recent figures, but not the planners or other Government quango departments.

Their answer seems to be, just increase the fees and let the lads sit and scratch, sure it’s off a broad board, the taxpayer.

Sammy Wilson and the personnel in Planning Service should realise that planning department jobs have to be on the line sooner than later.

Lord Rooker started the slide in applications due to the introduction of pps 14; it was later upheld by Arlene Foster, even though it was deemed illegal by the courts, only to be reinstated with a new reference number and a few minor adjustments as sop.

It is obvious that with a 20% reduction in planning applications, there is a 20% reduction in workload.

There is a need for a reduction in staff. You only have to check the papers on planning applications to see these people have a drastically reduced workload.

Now’s the time to ask why we, the public, pay an extra 20% on our fees in a time of economic downturn to keep people in public service jobs when it is blatantly apparent that they are overstaffed from their own issued revenue figures and have been for quite a while.

I don’t see the Environment Minister helping the cash-strapped private sector keep staff in a job when they lose business, have a reduced workload and can’t pay the workers on the earnings.

They can’t raise their prices because of the market. Planners can though. It appears their services are cushioned from the market by ministers

Perhaps, because our ministers and public representatives have been able to benefit from the system with their extras and allowances (all legal) which is now apparent and in the public domain, a paltry £4m or £5m is neither here nor there. It would, I am sure, enable our Health Service to employ an extra few much-needed nurses.

Harlow Parkinson

Lisnarick, Fermanagh

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