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Alliance to tackle planning loophole with greater transparency over donations

April 19, 2015 8:26 PM

The Alliance Party has continued to push for openness and transparency when it comes to political donations, tackling the loophole that could see developers influence planning decisions under new Council powers.

As it stands Councillors - who have inherited greater planning powers under local government reform - do not have to reveal if their parties receive donations from property developers. However it seems Alliance is in the minority when it comes to closing this loophole, with the DUP, UUP and SDLP rejecting calls for a more transparent process as recent as last month.

Led by Councillor Michael Long and Councillor Andrew Muir, from now on Alliance Councillors will publish donations obtained from property developers and go further by declaring any donations when tasked with making planning-related decisions.

Councillor Michael Long said: "Alliance has had to continually fight for a fairer, more open and transparent system and will continue to do so going forward in this new era of local government.

"It is quite clear others, especially the DUP and UUP, are keen to keep the issue of political donations. Why else would those parties block attempts to bring politics out from behind closed doors? As recent as last month they succeeded, along with the SDLP, in blocking greater transparency in Ards and North Down. Clearly they have something to hide.

"Going forward Alliance will publish all donations from property developers and make these donations clear during crucial planning decisions. Our motives will always be based on what is best for the entire community, not the easiest way to line our pockets."

Councillor Andrew Muir added: "With planning powers coming to Councils on 1st April and Councillors voting on planning applications, it is vital we retain public confidence, but without transparency around donations there is a strong risk this will be lost. The public have a right to know when Councillors will be making decisions on planning issues that involves individuals who have made large donations to their party.

"Alliance already voluntarily releases information on our donations, it is time that donations to all parties were published to build public trust and end the whiff of corruption surrounding local politics."

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