A HOUSEBUILDER bidding to overturn a controversial move to reject plans for a new development claims live tweets during a crunch meeting influenced the decision.
Barratt claims it was placed “at an unfair disadvantage” during a hearing to decide the fate of a 241-home Brunswick Road estate because of a “running commentary from an egotistical consultee” from conservation watchdog the Cockburn Association.
In its appeal, the firm has written to the Scottish Government suggesting tweets at the June meeting by the Cockburn’s former assistant director, Euan Leitch, were a “contributing factor in the derailment of the application” which had originally been recommended for approval.
“Overt” lobbying of councillors before and during the meeting, it claimed, was “highly questionable from a professional and ethical point of view” and suggested the prospect of live tweeting should have been made clear.
Webcasting of key council meetings started in September 2012 but journalists, councillors and the public have long exchanged views via social media during hearings.
Councillors on the committees refrain from commenting publicly on upcoming applications, fearing their remarks could prejudice the case.
Mr Leitch said there was “no evidence” his commentary had contributed to the rejection, but raised the question of banning councillors using Twitter during such meetings.
He said: “My question is not whether councillors have been tweeting during a meeting but whether they should be reading Twitter during a planning or licensing committee. It’s about behaviour within committee hearings. But I think it’s appropriate for members of the public in the public gallery to be tweeting a commentary.”
Cllr Nigel Bagshaw, planning spokesman for Edinburgh Greens, said it was “rich” of developers to complain about a planning process that is “inherently biased in their favour”.
He said: “Applicants are guided through the whole process by council officials and are given advanced warning about what might get in the way of an application.
“There is assistance there to help remove obstacles for them so they work together to make sure that the application is granted essentially. But even when it does, it can still go through and then they have a right of appeal if it doesn’t.”
A council spokesman said: “Councillors receive training on their code of conduct, which is regulated by the Standards Commission, and their responsibilities in relation to their appointment to these committees. Whenever representations are made to councillors the code applies.”
No-one at Barratt was available for comment.
Early birds flock to be voice of city
EDINBURGH has joined Sweden, Australia and New York with its very own Twitter account which will be manned by residents on a week-by-week basis.
Slots at @LoveEdinburgh have been filled up until Christmas week after mastermind Conrad Rossouw announced his rotation curation plans on the social network.
The 33-year-old, who works as a digital manager for Shelter Scotland and has more than 7000 followers, kicked off the project this week and is hoping to attract interesting people to be guest tweeters. He said: “It’s for absolutely anyone, from small businesses who might be struggling, to big names if they want to do it.
“My hopes would be that it becomes a different interest guide to Edinburgh and to give a flavour of what this city is all about. All I ask is that people are active, do about five to six tweets a day or more if they can, and follow the golden rule which is to interact with the community.”
Anyone interested in getting involved can apply online at loveedinburgh.co.