3. Previous Stakeholder Engagement
3.1 During November 2022, workshops were held with various stakeholders to gather information to inform our approach to elected member training. Representatives from organisations, including local authorities, community councils, and the private sector, were invited to attend one of 4 online workshops. A full list of representative organisations is provided at Annex A.
3.2 The workshops were structured around three main discussion points:
- Current practice and key issues
- Content to be included in mandatory training
- Delivery and monitoring of mandatory training
3.3 Participants highlighted that there was a perceived inconsistency in attendance by elected members, both newly elected and long standing, at the current training sessions provided by local authorities.
3.4 Participants also perceived there to be lack of understanding of the core elements of the planning system. This included:
- the local development plan (LDP) process, the role of LDP policies and the difference between particular application types (e.g. planning permission in principle and approval of matters specified in conditions);
- what constitutes a material consideration and how to attach weight to different considerations; and
- the appeals process, and the associated delays and costs that can arise.
3.5 Participants also felt that there was inconsistency with decision-making which supports the findings from the review of the planning system (2016). The inconsistency in decision-making was partially attributed to a lack of understanding of the core elements of the planning system as stated above. Other concerns raised throughout included:
- not understanding technical or professional planning advice which accompanies planning decisions, for example technical assessments and officer recommendations; and
- considerations not relevant to planning being taken into account during the decision-making process of an application.
3.6 In terms of delivery and monitoring, there was also a general consensus that there needs to be evidence that the training has been understood. The option of a test being incorporated into the training was mentioned. There were differing views on whether the method of training should be conducted in-person or online. It was highlighted that in-person training would be more engaging for elected members and therefore could be considered more effective. However, the online method was deemed most appropriate due to the large numbers of elected members across Scotland and it would allow them to undertake the training at a time that suits them.
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