Westminster to probe planning decision-making process in wake of hospitality furore

Westminster City Council is to carry out a review of its planning decision-making process in the wake of a furore over how frequently its former planning committee chair had been entertained by developers and others.

Hospitality: Guardian revelations prompt planning probe
Hospitality: Guardian revelations prompt planning probe

Last month, The Guardian ran a series of articles on the gifts and entertainment accepted by Robert Davis, the Westminster councillor who stepped down from chairing the council’s planning committee in January last year after 17 years.

Davis, the paper reported, had been entertained on 514 separate occasions between 2015 and 2018 by "developers, big business and other interests".

Davis, who has denied any wrongdoing, subsequently referred himself to the council’s monitoring officer. The monitoring officer has appointed a QC to work on the investigation.

Now, the council has announced that Davis has stood down from his current roles as deputy leader and cabinet member for business, culture and heritage while the investigation is undertaken.

Westminster City Council leader Nickie Aiken said that she had also asked the council’s chief executive to carry out a review looking "at all aspects of the decision-making process to ensure planning is, and is seen as, an independent and impartial process".

"Residents need reassurance that the planning process is not only impartial, but is seen to be impartial", Aiken said. 

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