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Date: 9/2/2006

In general terms the Society agrees with the findings of the Audit Commission's study (Innovative practices will help councils bridge planning skills gap), and recommends innovative solutions to dealing with problems of staff shortages, including the use of private consultants. Many authorities already do so, it seems some do not.

The Society is of the view that those that do not, or those that only use them to a limited extent, are often constrained from doing so not by any inherent antipathy to their use but by limited resources. Whilst Planning Delivery Grant has enabled the successful authorities to buy in consultancy support, the struggling authorities, those in most need of external sport, attract the lowest PDG and hence a limited ability to externalise.

Planning Officers Society Spokesperson, John Silvester, commented “the Audit Commission study does not address the long term issue this matter represents - that is the creation of more skilled planners in the workforce. Making planning more attractive to young people as a potential job is critical to the future of the planning profession.”

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