Page last updated at 06:57 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Planning backlog cuts cost 53k

Bricklaying (library picture)
The council has a backlog of 250 applications

A second council in mid Wales is to pay a private company to clear a large backlog of planning applications.

Ceredigion council will pay Capita Symonds 53,000 to deal with 250 applications during the next four months.

Last month, neighbouring Powys council announced it was paying the company 95,000 to clear 300 inquiries.

The firm confirmed it had been hired, but said it would be working closely with Ceredigion's planning team.

The council said the decision would enable it to meet performance targets.

Meanwhile, it has also announced improvements to its planning department, including changes its website.

'Positive experience'

Ceredigion's assistant director of planning Russell Hughes-Pickering said: "The aim is to provide a planning service that becomes one that everyone would be proud to be associated with."

He said the council was working to reduce "basic issues" such as reducing the backlog, managing the caseload better and improving the speed of decision-making.

He added: "Such measures target the provision of a more responsive and positive experience for all those who use the service."

Councillor Gethin James, council cabinet member with responsibility for planning, said he supported the move to clear the backlog of applications and the other improvements and changes being made.

Ceredigion council said the scheme would be funded from "existing budgetary provisions".

A spokesman for Capita Symonds said: "The fundamental aim will be to address the need to process backlogs of older applications and peaks of new applications in an increasingly pressurised and performance-monitored environment."

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