ALL PLANNING officers are capable of taking enforcement action against people who flout the law.

At Thursday’s committee meeting, planning officers revealed the information as they updated the councillors on a recent enforcement success.

This was the prosecution by Powys County Council (PCC) of Eddie McIntosh, of Mellowcroft near Llandrindod Wells.

Gwilym Davies,  planning control manager, believes that these successes need to be highlighted so that the public can see they do enforce policy.

PCC has been criticised for not taking enforcement action against people and companies.

Comments made at last month’s meeting by committee solicitor, Colin Edwards, had explained why this was the case.

He had told councillors at the meeting on February 28 that the department “does not have any dedicated enforcement officers” any more.

Mr Davies wanted to clarify the issue and told the councillors that “all planning officers” were trained in enforcement.

Mr Davies said: “We don’t have designated planning enforcement officers whose job is purely to do planning enforcement.

“What we do have is every single planning officer has a duty and enforcement workload. So we have got capacity within the team to do enforcement.”

Mr Davies told the committee that having dedicated officers to do enforcement work had stopped about four years ago.

Mr Davies said that since then: “There has been training up of officers and we have started to see a number of enforcement notices and prosecutions increase and I think that is progress.

“What we need to do is a better job of getting the public to see this work. It’s a failing of the department at the moment.

“You don’t see the successful prosecutions or the enforcement work going on.”

Mr Davies pointed out that the department’s resources had been put under huge pressure with all the departure (app;lications) poultry units and public inquiries to deal with at the same time as “budget cuts.”

He added: “We are criticised for taking and not taking enforcement action.

“We cannot just prosecute people who are rich so that we can get our costs back, we have to make sure that everything is done in accordance to policy and take the relevant actions regardless of who they are against. ”

Cllr Francesca Jump, (Liberal Democrat – Welshpool Gungrog), referring to Mr McIntosh, said: “Regarding this particular enforcement I think he appears in the press as a soft target and I think people have a lot of sympathy for him.

“What you probably need to publicise is someone deliberately flouting, who is rich. I get complaints about enforcement and people doing what they want and getting away with it.”

Eddie Mcintosh, 52,  had built his eco-home “Mellowcroft” near Llandrindod Wells without the required permissions and is required to tear it down.

He had been given permission for the site to be used for agriculture but the authority proved it was being used as a residence – because he was living in a tree house there.

Mr McIntosh has now been found guilty at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court of 18 charges of breaking planning laws by failing to comply with planning enforcement notices served on him by PCC. He could still appeal the decision.