OH dear, oh dear, what a dreadful damning report on the planning set up at Craven District Council (Craven Herald, November 26).

The members have for many years come under severe criticism but now the known failings are seeing the light of day.

I have for some time found it difficult to serve as a member of this planning decision process.

We had over the years been advised by sound professional officers whom we respected and trusted the planning guidance given. More recently, that trust and respect in some of the national planning policy and the legal interpretation of that policy has come across as not being of the clarity and consistency we had previously relied upon to make our democratic decisions. This has given rise to immense frustration from some members that we feel unable to give anything like sufficient weight to the particular local characteristics of local planning applications.

As for the reported improvements, last Monday's planning meeting took four minutes short of four hours to decide two applications, no improvement there then.

Previous chairmen of planning at Craven have given sound, effective leadership and chairmenship.

Members have always been helpful to the chairman and questioning and rightly so of our officers. My observation is that members do not interrupt debate and always indicate when wishing to speak. Unfortunately, not all our officers recognise this accepted protocol.

Development control is such a sensitive matter for both the general public and applicants aspirations. There will always be conflict, division and dissatisfied parties.

Myself and colleague members of the planning committee have brought these matters repeatedly to the attention of the council leadership of Craven. It seems at last we are being taken seriously.

Better late than never. Craven residents and planning applicants deserve nothing less than a good sound service and value for money for their council tax.

Cllr Robert Heseltine (planning committee member)