THE postponement of a group set up to examine the relationship between a controversial business group with East Devon District Council has been criticised.
Last September, councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee ruled that a sub-committee should be set up to scrutinise the East Devon Business Forum, branded by critics "a lobby for developers".
Since the formation of the Task and Finish Forum (Taff), there have been three meetings – in December, March and June – and its scope has been a constant topic of debate.
In June, following the withdrawal of officer support from the Forum, it was rebranded the East Devon Business Group in a bid to making a "fresh start".
The next Taff meeting, scheduled for September 2, has now been postponed.
The decision was made by Taff chairman, Councillor Graham Troman.
He said: "This is to await the outcome of discussions within the business community on the setting up of a forum.
"We will invite representatives of the proposed business forum to a future meeting of the Business Taff with them to outline their plans. The Taff can then refer back to its previous discussions with business representatives and decide on any principles of good practice it would like to recommend in managing its relationship with the business community."
He also confirmed that the delay was to ensure that the work of the Taff did not delay the Local Plan process.
But critics are questioning the reason for the delay, highlighting that the point of the Taff forming was to evaluate the former relationship between the business forum and the council.
However Cllr Troman confirmed that the remit of the Taff, which includes looking into what influence the Forum had on determining the level of employment land to be included in the emerging Local Plan, would be fulfilled.
Earlier this year, although the issue of its influence on planning was a central reason for the formation of the group, council chief executive Mark Williams ruled it could not discuss planning for legal reasons.
However committee members subsequently debated the scope at the March meeting and a vote to put the influence the Forum has on the council's planning process was put back on the agenda.