Labour opposition leader Justin Madders is concerned the Cheshire West and Chester Council leader regularly holds meetings with developers that are not recorded with no clue as to what was even discussed.
A Freedom of Information response to The Chronicle reveals “no notes recorded” for five out of the 10 meetings in the last financial year involving Cllr Mike Jones and developers such as Redrow, Harrow Estates and Taylor Wimpey.
However, the council did provide “key action notes” for three out of five meetings held with Peel Holdings along with four agendas.
And the council says there is “no requirement” to record informal meetings.
But Cllr Madders said: “You have got to have transparency. If you are having meetings and no minutes are taken, alongside controversial applications being submitted, then people will always think the worst and feel that a deal has been done at the start. It is important any meetings are publicly traceable and open to scrutiny afterwards.
“There is already significant anxiety about the probity of the planning system and this is not assisting in dealing with that perception.”
Council spokesman Ian Callister said: “As part of their normal duties, councillors – particularly the leader and members of the executive – frequently attend informal meetings with a variety of organisations to discuss issues and schemes affecting their locality or portfolio.
“This is standard practice and there is no requirement in the code of conduct to record such informal meetings. However, should a recommendation arise it would go to council in the normal way.
“Obviously, all decisions affecting the authority and its services could only be made via the council’s statutory procedures and would have to be considered through the normal democratic process.”