A COUNCIL'S Labour leaders have been accused of seeking to take key planning decisions behind closed doors.

The allegation was made by Tory spokesman Cllr Paul Marrow at Blackburn with Darwen Borough's full Council Forum on Thursday.

The row erupted when the meeting debated changes to the scheme for delegating planning decisions to officers.

Cllr Marrow objected to a change in the wording of the authority's constitution claiming it reduced the rights of elected members.

The proposal removed the words 'large scale major' and 'minor' to distinguish between proposed developments where councillors rather than officers made decisions.

The threshold for automatic planning committee consideration on housing developments remains at 50 homes.

Conservative regeneration spokesman Cllr Paul Marrow said: "This council seems determined to take more planning decisions behind closed doors."

Planning Committee chairman Dave Smith said; "This is not the council wanting changes but your government.

"If councillors refer developments of less than 50 homes to me, the committee will still consider them."

Cllr Phil Riley, borough regeneration boss, said: "We have been through through this at planning committee and Cllr Marrow was clearly not listening. In effect nothing has changed.

"I am happy to give the Conservatives an assurance that where there are several objections to a housing development it will go to planning committee."