HIGH Sheriff of Powys and county councillor David Price, had been running a caravan site at Noyadd Farm near Builth Wells for years without a certificate of lawfulness.

At today's planning committee his application for the certificate was approved, after councillors were told to stick to facts by legal officers.

According to planning officers, Cllr Price had been running it without the certificate for too long to be subject to enforcement action.

Under Caravan Club licence, Noyadd Farm was restricted to just five pitches, but the report discussed at the planning committee today, said that evidence showed that 28 pitches had been filled at times.

Several councillors on the planning committee which Cllr Price had chaired until May, had wanted to send his application to another local authority to determine.

Cllr Gwilym Williams, said: "As councillors we try to be fairly straight and honest and clean as regards planning matters.

"This is the second time that a retrospective application has come before us from this applicant who is a councillor, it's disappointing.

"We all make mistakes, I accept it's retrospective, for clarity it should not be determined by us but by another authority, it would be done for clarity and so that there's no animosity.

PCC legal director, Clive Pinney, explained the legal situation, that only a Full Council could ask another County Council to take a decision on behalf of Powys.

This prompted Cllr Williams to say that the application should go to full council for them to decide whether to bring in another authority

Cllr Elwyn Vaughan said: "We have to be very careful, we have a duty to the public to be transparent, open and honest.

"It's of great concern that we have a councillor, until very recently chairman of this committee, operating a site in this way.

"It sends the totally wrong message to the public and undermines the democratic process.

"The only thing that behaviour like this does is reinforce a negative view of the authority.

"I'm not happy at all and think that it's inappropriate that he continues as a member of this committee."

Cllr Karen Laurie-Parry added that if this had been a staff member they would have been suspended pending an investigation.

"The applicant is someone I used to look up to," said Cllr Laurie-Parry

Committee, legal advisor, Colin Edwards, said: "Members have to put the blinkers on.

"The application is a certificate for lawful development.

"The test is the balance of probabilities which is 51.1 per-cent

"The certificate is the issue, forget who it is and concentrate on the facts."

Cllr E.Michael Jones, said: "We have had training, we have to be objective when making this decision.

"This is a legal issue and we need to put personal issues aside

"It's our responsibility as much as we'd like to pass the buck on to someone else."

The certificate of lawfulness was passed on a seven to three vote.