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Controversial Perthshire development pushed through despite councillor’s laptop crashing at crucial vote

L-R: Peter Mackie, Graeme Buchan and Werner Reich.
L-R: Peter Mackie, Graeme Buchan and Werner Reich.

A controversial development in Perthshire has been pushed through following a tied vote after a councillor’s computer crashed, leaving him unable to have his say.

Concerns over Perth and Kinross Council’s online planning committees have grown after an application relating to a major 187-home development in Stanley was approved in a meeting beset by technical difficulties.

The contentious housing application was before committee in March but was deferred so elected members could undertake a site visit over concerns about road safety  on the B9099 leading into the estate.

Fears over the democratic process were raised at the start of this week’s meeting as the application had arrived back before committee without the scheduled site visit having been carried out, due to coronavirus.

Councillors clash with ‘disingenuous’ planners over Stanley development

The issue was confounded after Councillor Eric Drysdale’s computer crashed for 12 minutes, leaving him unable to cast his vote on the application, despite having visited the site and sat through the original meeting and more than two hours of Wednesday’s discussion.

With final votes on the application tied at six apiece the committee convener, councillor Roz McCall, used her powers to have a casting vote and approve the application.

Mr Drysdale told The Courier after the meeting: “I was not certain how I wanted to vote so I wanted to go see the site myself so I drove up there before the meeting in what passes for rush hour during lockdown.

“That raised a number of questions in my mind about the road safety angle.

“Sadly the hardware crashed and I missed out on 12 minutes so I found that extremely frustrating but I genuinely had’t made up my mind about which way I was going to vote.”

Kinross-shire group calls for suspension of controversial Lathro Farm application over online voting system fears

Stanley and District Community Council chairman Werner Reiche said he had concerns over the democratic process.

“It’s an unfortunate result and a very bad result for the community. It seems that local knowledge in this issue has been totally ignored.

“We are concerned that a decision was taken in March that to be able to vote the councillors had to visit the site and I don’t know that all the councillors that voted yesterday visited the site or not.

“If they were unable to visit the site then by their own democratic process they shouldn’t have been able to vote.

“If there is an accident at this proposed junction then Perth and Kinross Council should be held to account.”

Strathmore councillor Grant Laing spoke out against the application and was concerned that the final decision came down to a technological glitch and not a full vote by elected members.

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