Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

Northern Ireland Assembly

Members of the environment committee have said there should be a review of the involvement of politicians in planning applications.

On 14 January 2010, the committee discussed what role it may play in the investigations surrounding Iris Robinson and Castlereagh Borough Council's awarding of a contract to her teenage lover.

The SDLP's John Dallat said the committee should look at the "traditionally informal" relationship between councillors and planners.

The Robinson affair had "rocked local government to its foundations" and went far beyond Castlereagh, he said. The wider public had been unsettled by recent events and the Auditor General needed to scrutinise the system and the influence of public representatives in planning decisions.

Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs said the issue was "why developers felt comfortable handing £25,000 over to a public representative" and that there was "a reason for this" which was not in the public interest.

The DUP's Alastair Ross said an investigation into the £50,000 asked for by Iris Robinson from Fred Fraser and Ken Campbell had already been launched by the Assembly's Standards and Privileges Committee.

Members also received a briefing from officers from the PSNI's road safety branch.

Superintendent Muir Clark, the PSNI's head of road policing, said the police are to reduce their presence on Northern Ireland's motorway network.

He said motorways were the safest roads and the number of patrols would be reduced by 30%.

The officer said he wanted to put more road safety officers into areas where the highest rate of road deaths occur.

Environment committee membership

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