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Stafford planning officers struggle to cope with demand

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: August 15, 2014

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A SURGE in planning applications across Stafford borough has left the council struggling to recruit enough planning officers to deal with them.

And councillors may have to consider boosting pay levels to attract more job applicants, the council’s community services scrutiny committee heard.

Head of planning and regeneration Ted Manders said there had been an “upsurge” in activity across the country as the economy recovered.

“Every local authority that divested itself of planning officers over the past few years is now trying to re-recruit them, and we are also in competition with the private sector and planning consultancies,” he said.

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He said the problem was worsened by a reduction in the number of planning courses at universities.

One vacant post in Stafford’s planning department was being advertised for a second time because of the lack of applicants. In the meantime the department was using temporary staff to cover the work.

“We are handling the situation as best we can,” Mr Manders added.

Committee chairman Ralph Cooke said: “I would have thought that if there is a dearth of supply prices would go up, and therefore we may need to pay them more.”

He asked: “Have we increased our salary levels to get more candidates - or does that only apply to chief executives?”

Planning and regeneration portfolio holder Frances Beatty said: “There is certainly a shortage of planning officers nationally and pay levels is one of the things we are looking at seriously.”

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