Highways chief says officers no longer attend council meetings due to being ‘insulted, bullied and threatened’

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

Kent’s highways chief claims the county council’s officers no longer attend planning meetings because they are “insulted, bullied and threatened”.

Cllr David Brazier was responding to complaints by members of the cross-party Maidstone Joint Transportation Committee (JTB) about the absence of Kent County Council (KCC) officials at Wednesday’s meeting.

It is a complaint that has also been raised several times by Thanet’s JTB with members at one point refusing to make a highways decision until an officer was in attendance.

Cllr Brazier, who is the KCC cabinet member for highways, said he is rarely invited to the 12 district JTBs in Kent.

But he had provided a paper for the August 2 JTB written by a KCC officer, which he had approved, outlining the authority’s position on its “involvement in the highway aspects of planning applications.”

Planning applications for new developments, such as the massive house-building programme currently happening across Kent, are dealt with at borough and district council level.

KCC’s highways department will give its assessment on applications regarding potential impact on local roads.

Cllr Brazier said: “Highways officers do not routinely attend planning meetings at district/borough level because, in the past, they have been insulted, bullied and threatened when they have not effectively ‘stopped’ an application held in disfavour by local members or the public.

“I do not suggest that that has ever happened at Maidstone. If a substantial development is being considered, officers can attend.”

Cllr Brazier’s report to the JTB said planning inspectors are “routinely approving appeals” to rejected planning applications and highways congestion is “not often” upheld as a reason for refusal.

Today, he expanded that stance by saying: “Elected members, and indeed members of the public have sometimes held the view that planning applications can be ‘stopped’ by highways officers’ interventions at planning meetings, and they become upset when this does not happen.”

One borough councillor said that the absence at the JTB of Cllr Brazier or KCC highways officials made a “mockery of democracy”.

Cllr Brazier hit back: “It is essential that highways officers’ responses to the planning applications submitted to them are unbiased and should not be influenced by members, who are not qualified people.

“If members want to influence a planning application, including its highways aspects, they need to present their views to the local development control committee, which is completely democratic.”

In his JTB paper, Cllr Brazier had suggested residents moving into new developments could use more “sustainable” ways of travelling, such as cycling, walking or public transport, to avoid congested roads.

This angered some local representatives in the Maidstone borough who said roads are simply not safe for cycling due to heavy volumes of traffic.

Cllr Brazier responded: “Highways Officers are primarily interested in safety. Whether there is capacity for sustainable transport in a development is a matter for developers.”

Angry councillors delay transport decisions due to continued county council representation no-show


  1. If our elected representatives behave in this way , they should be thoroghly ashamed of themselves.

  2. Why can’t the officers do face-time video link then if any idiot starts bullying them the officers can just switch off the head case bullies. Disgusting behaviour by so-called grown up councillors.

  3. The chair of any meeting needs to be able to control the meeting in a polite but firm manner, any heckling or barracking needs to be stopped firmly. It is ridiculous that council officers refuse to attend meetings, it is part of their job, they need to be disciplined, if they refuse to attend an orderly meeting.

  4. aghhhh poor little people , shall we wrap them in cotton wool ? they dont mind taking the massive payments do they . if you cant stand the heat get out of the kitchen as they say

  5. Whoever John is, he is totally correct that the Chair has a role to ensure order in any meeting. This is recognised in law and the Police can be called to assist the Chair ejecting any persons not leaving when requested to. Council officers are public servant’s and are duty bound to attend and report to councillors and others. I was a local government employee for 40 years, the last 32 of them à a senior officer. I attended many rowdy meetings, including chairing the Community and Police Consultative Group. These were often 500 or so strong mainly consisting of angry black folk and the Police officers present often had a rough time but it was terrible useful. Both sides managed to let off steam and most people valued these opportunities. When I retired I was given a very nice certificate for my efforts. I am sure none of these meetings in Kent are half as rowdy as the Hackney ones I used to go to! The Chair should also explain to any members of the public present, including protestors, that planning officers have to work within the regulations laid down by various Acts of Parliament and by Council policies. It is clearly a case of don’t shoot the messenger so toughen up!

  6. Margate Task Force are situated at TDC and they have called them before when council has kicked off. If anyone is being threatening they can be charged for disturbing the peace or public disorder. The officers should attend the meetings and this could stop if the officers really wanted it to just by putting a simple bit of planning in place.

  7. Just perhaps, these people bring it on themselves, if they didn’t spend decades making poor decisions, unfathomable back patting each other for at best if you try to put a positive spin on it, reaching the liwer reaches of mediocrity then perhaps people would not be frustrated to the point of anger and despair to take it out on them. Not attending meetings does not help the cycle of decline, you can never dig your way out of a hole, it’s a myth. Just like the one we are bluffed into believing that elected Government such as MPs, Cllrs and many low ranking and upper class pay off regime know what they are doing, also a myth. Incompetence is running deep with these people.
    No efficiency, just bury your head and carry on then call everyone else bullies when they are found out for their inadequacy. #buildonbrownfieldbuildonmanston

  8. Stop paying them, not conducting there duties, probably go off with stress bess them. Or sack them, plenty would take on their jobs, do it better and competently.

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