An independent councillor has called for rules to be changed after he was blocked from being able to join Caerphilly County Borough Council’s planning committee.
Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix has offered to take up a position on the committee as it does not include any members of the council’s Independent group.
However he has been told that he will not be able to take up the position as he is not part of a political group.
Cllr Dix is an Independent councillor, but he is not part of the council’s Independent group.
At a full council meeting last week, Cllr Dix said: “I do find it extraordinary that as an elected member I can’t sit on a committee because I’m not a member of a political group and I sit as an Independent.
“I find that extraordinary and I expect the public would as well.
“I would hope that all members, whether they sit in political groups or not, would be treated with the same respect and have the same powers.”
Rob Tranter, the council’s head of legal services, said Cllr Dix would need to be a member of the Independent group to join the planning committee.
“Because Cllr Dix is not a member of a group, the only committee he can take part in is this committee, the full council,” Mr Tranter said.
Mr Tranter said this is due to political balance rules, which the council has a legal requirement to meet.
Welsh Government rules state that an independent member who is not a member of a political group does not automatically qualify for a committee seat.
However legislation allows some scope for varying the rules, if the council agrees to this.
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Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Dix called for changes to the rules so that all councillors are “treated the same”.
“National legislation needs amending so that all democratically elected councillors are treated the same,” he said.
“I am simply asking to take up a position on planning, which the Labour group constantly complain that Independent councillors are refusing to do.”
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The framework for setting out political balance on committees is set out in the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and the Local Government (Committees and Political Groups) Regulations 1990, but it is the responsibility of each council to determine, within the rules, how its committee seats are allocated to the political groups within the council, and not the Welsh Government.”
Caerphilly County Borough Council confirmed it is following current guidelines.
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