CONTROVERSIAL plans over the future of a quarry site near Dumbarton are to be debated again – after the area’s top local authority official decided councillors should reconsider their vote.

It is the first time chief executive Joyce White has used powers to send a committee’s decision to a full meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) for a rethink.

Earlier this month, the council’s planning committee voted 5-4 against plans to extend the quarry in the Kilpatrick Hills after nearly 20 years of debate.

But the council’s leader has warned the financial implications to the council of the planning committee’s decision could run into seven figures.

The proposals would have increased opening hours and set new conditions to meet modern standards and working practices.

Some residents have spoken out in favour of the application.

Councillors agreed to a review of minerals permission (ROMP), which updated the terms and conditions of the site, which date back to 1949.

But the planning application to “swap” land on the western part of the existing quarry with space behind nearby residential properties, was rejected.

Despite more than three hours of debate before the committee voted on the issue, the council’s chief executive is using her powers under standing orders to ask the full council to reconsider the issue.

The council itself was tight-lipped, confirming only that the issue would be heard at the March 3 meeting.

A spokeswoman did not answer questions about the use of the chief executive’s powers or her reasoning for the move.

Councillor Lawrence O’Neill, who voted against the application in committee, said the council had never been told how much the quarry asset is worth.

He said: “Finance is not a material consideration under planning.

This is the first time Mrs White is using these powers.

“We have asked Peter Hessett [the council’s chief legal adviser] to attend our group meeting to explain why the chief executive has used these powers.

“I work with local authorities and have been an elected member for 15 years. I have never, ever seen this.”

Council leader Jonathan McColl, who sided with council officers in the planning debate, told the Reporter: "The standing order in question exists to allow the chief executive to ask council to reconsider a decision where there is a serious risk of substantial financial loss of public money; in this case a seven-figure sum.

“It is part of the democratic process and all 22 councillors will be given the full facts and asked to make a final decision.

“The council can choose to reaffirm the planning committee decision or take any other decision we deem appropriate.

“When we have heard from both the applicant and objectors, and there are no further questions to be asked, the provost will invite councillors to move motions to either approve or reject the application in the same way as they would at a planning committee.

"After debate a vote will be called.

“As this is a planning matter, all councillors will vote individually and not as political groups.”