OPPOSITION councillors have criticised a move which has seen two council planning officers moved on to full-time trade union duties.

The switch will see two of City of York Council’s five-strong planning enforcement team, who are also union representatives, devote all their time to union matters. The authority’s Conservative group said it would have a “negative impact” on the department they leave behind.

The enforcement team investigates breaches of planning rules and unauthorised development.

Coun Sian Wiseman, who chairs the council’s east area planning sub-committee, claimed it already faced a backlog of 600 cases.

“Planning enforcement is a matter of real importance to residents and losing these officers is a setback,” she said.

“One has to question the priorities of a council which either allows this to happen or which has found itself in a position where it can find itself dictated to regarding the secondment of officers to union duties. It’s the people of York who are being short-changed.”

Mike Slater, assistant director for planning and sustainable development, said the council had a statutory duty to release union reps for duties, and other members of the enforcement team would now move up to full-time roles with an extra member being brought in.