Repeal Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act

If you assume that a property developer wheeling a barrow load of cash down to the town hall to buy a planning consent would end up in jail, think again.  It is perfectly legal under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

To “legalised bribery” add blackmail and extortion with council planners extracting huge sums of money from developers. Again, there is nothing unlawful about that.

This dark little corner of planning law also allows cosy deals between local authorities and developers which may not always be in the public interest.

The 1990 Act states:

106 Agreements regulating development or use of land

 (1) A local planning authority may enter into an agreement with any person interested in land in their area for the purpose of restricting or regulating the development or use of the land, either permanently or during such period as may be prescribed by the agreement.

(2) Any such agreement may contain such incidental and consequential provisions (including financial ones) as appear to the local planning authority to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the agreement.

Examine any planning consent for a major construction project and you will invariably find that a Section 106 legal agreement has been hatched up between the council planners and the developer. In most cases, the developer pays money – sometimes huge amounts – for his planning consent. Ostensibly, the contribution is to offset the impact of the development on local amenities such as roads and schools.

The problem is that it is up to the developer and the planners to reach a deal and tie it up in a legal agreement. This is unsafe and open to abuse.

Developers can buy influence over ill advised projects by negotiating large financial contributions to the council’s coffers. Greedy councils can also hold cash strapped smaller developers to ransom for extortionate sums.

The financial element of Section 106 agreements should either be taken out of the hands of local planning authorities and regulated by an independent body or scrapped altogether and replaced with a transparent and uniform land development tax that could be used for local roads, schools, etc.

Why is this idea important?

If you assume that a property developer wheeling a barrow load of cash down to the town hall to buy a planning consent would end up in jail, think again.  It is perfectly legal under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

To “legalised bribery” add blackmail and extortion with council planners extracting huge sums of money from developers. Again, there is nothing unlawful about that.

This dark little corner of planning law also allows cosy deals between local authorities and developers which may not always be in the public interest.

The 1990 Act states:

106 Agreements regulating development or use of land

 (1) A local planning authority may enter into an agreement with any person interested in land in their area for the purpose of restricting or regulating the development or use of the land, either permanently or during such period as may be prescribed by the agreement.

(2) Any such agreement may contain such incidental and consequential provisions (including financial ones) as appear to the local planning authority to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the agreement.

Examine any planning consent for a major construction project and you will invariably find that a Section 106 legal agreement has been hatched up between the council planners and the developer. In most cases, the developer pays money – sometimes huge amounts – for his planning consent. Ostensibly, the contribution is to offset the impact of the development on local amenities such as roads and schools.

The problem is that it is up to the developer and the planners to reach a deal and tie it up in a legal agreement. This is unsafe and open to abuse.

Developers can buy influence over ill advised projects by negotiating large financial contributions to the council’s coffers. Greedy councils can also hold cash strapped smaller developers to ransom for extortionate sums.

The financial element of Section 106 agreements should either be taken out of the hands of local planning authorities and regulated by an independent body or scrapped altogether and replaced with a transparent and uniform land development tax that could be used for local roads, schools, etc.

Repeal the Hunting Act

The Hunting Act 2004 should be repealed. The welfare of the fox population and the vitality of the countryside depends on it. It is the most humane form of fox control which is both selective and beneficial to the fox population. The law, morover, is badly written and non sensicle.

Why is this idea important?

The Hunting Act 2004 should be repealed. The welfare of the fox population and the vitality of the countryside depends on it. It is the most humane form of fox control which is both selective and beneficial to the fox population. The law, morover, is badly written and non sensicle.

Amend the Bribery Act 2010

The new Bribery Act is drafted too widely.  It criminalises innocent activities (see example below).  We were assured by the previous Labour government that this does not matter since "prosecutorial discretion" will ensure that only the "guilty" are punished.  This puts the power of deciding who is guilty (ie moral wrongdoers) in the hands of the state, since many innocent activities are criminalised by this law.  The new Act needs to be amended so that only wrong deeds are criminalised.

An example: a person ("P") has two tickets to the Wimbledon final on Sunday.  P wishes to take his old friend, "J", a High Court judge.  J has told P that she has a great deal of work to do over the weekend on a case she is judging.  If P persuades J (despite her protests about workload) to accompany him to the tennis, P is guilty of bribery under the terms of the new law even though P derives no benefit from J's acceptance of the ticket (except the pleasure of her company).

Why is this idea important?

The new Bribery Act is drafted too widely.  It criminalises innocent activities (see example below).  We were assured by the previous Labour government that this does not matter since "prosecutorial discretion" will ensure that only the "guilty" are punished.  This puts the power of deciding who is guilty (ie moral wrongdoers) in the hands of the state, since many innocent activities are criminalised by this law.  The new Act needs to be amended so that only wrong deeds are criminalised.

An example: a person ("P") has two tickets to the Wimbledon final on Sunday.  P wishes to take his old friend, "J", a High Court judge.  J has told P that she has a great deal of work to do over the weekend on a case she is judging.  If P persuades J (despite her protests about workload) to accompany him to the tennis, P is guilty of bribery under the terms of the new law even though P derives no benefit from J's acceptance of the ticket (except the pleasure of her company).