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Skills review aims to boost councillors' planning abilities

NEXT time you get turned down for planning permission on that conservatory you were hoping to build, it might be harder to appeal against the decision.

The late-night ramblings of planning committees around the country could become somewhat better-informed as deputy Prime Minister John Prescott takes a closer look at the skills of local authority councillors.

Mr Prescott has brought in Sir John Egan, president of the Confederation of British Industry, to oversee a review of skills among "built environment" professionals. They include architects, planners, surveyors and people working in economic development.

His review will look at the possibility of pilot projects to test ways of improving the skills of people whose jobs affect the physical environment.

The process could have implications for further education colleges and work-based training providers.

Sir John was chairman and chief executive of Mr Prescott's favourite car manufacturer, Jaguar, having previously worked with General Motors and British Leyland.

Mr Prescott said: "I am delighted he has agreed to help us rethink the skills needed to deliver our sustainable communities agenda."

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