Planning chief resigns after suspension

Oldham council’s head of planning, Mr Stephen Irvine, has resigned.

The town hall launched an investigation into ‘allegations’ in regards to Mr Irvine, but would not confirm the reason for the resignation or enquiry.

Bosses said it did not relate to Mr Irvine’s role supporting the council’s planning committee, nor to advice relating to any planning decision or outcome - but added that they ‘regret’ details of the ‘internal process’ had been made public before the investigation concluded.

Cllr. Jamie Curley, on behalf of the Oldham & Saddleworth Conservative councillors, sent a letter to the council posing five questions surrounding the implications of the suspension of Mr Irvine prior to his resignation.

Cllr Jamie Curley said:

“Given the backlog of planning issues and the extreme sensitivity around them, and the allegations factually or otherwise being circulated, we want the public and indeed the taxpayer to have full confidence that there will not be any whitewash or scapegoating of one individual.

"Local people have lost a lot of trust in Oldham’s planning process and the bombshell of the Boroughs planning officer being put under investigation has added fuel to the fire, that the deck is stacked against local people.

"That is why we want the allegations to be fully investigated by a third party.”

Council chiefs have said Mr Irvine’s decision to leave ‘brings to an end any ongoing internal investigations’.

Helen Lockwood, Oldham council’s deputy chief executive said in a statement: “I can confirm that Stephen Irvine has resigned as head of planning at Oldham council.

“This decision brings to an end any ongoing internal investigations.

“However, we can confirm that the allegations made were not related to his role in supporting the council’s planning committee nor to the advice or outcome of any planning decision.

“We regret that the details of an internal process relating to an employee were made public before we had chance to undertake an investigation or reach any conclusion as to the validity of those allegations.

“We wish Steve well in the future and thank him for all his hard work for Oldham council over the years.”

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