Junior council worker accidentally makes tons of decisions after thinking they were testing the website
A junior staff member at a Kent council approved and rejected five very real planning applications after thinking they were testing out a dummy website, according to reports.
The staff member at the Mid Kent Planning Support team, which deals with online planning matters for Swale council, believed they were testing out software issues when in actual fact they were approving and rejecting legally binding contracts, Mail Online reported.
Among the mistake was a sarcastic rebuttal of a desperate bid by Happy Pants animal sanctuary to stay on its site near Sittingbourne. The charity was told "your proposal is whack" and "no mate, proper whack". It is believed this mistake will cost £8,000 to rectify.
A butcher's change-of-use application in Sittingbourne was also turned down, with the official reasoning reading: "No, just don't."
The partial demolition of Wheatsheaf pub was also approved along with the comment "incy, wincy, spider" attached.
If the situation couldn't get any stranger, another pub demolition in Sheerness was approved with the "why am I doing this, am I the chosen one?"
Though the situation arose from a mistake, legal teams have advised that although deleted, the applications needed to be legally overturned.
Amey James, founder of The Happy Pants Ranch, told KentOnline: "Obviously the comments are quite laughable, but if I had gone on there this morning before I saw the email from Swale council about the error I think I would have had a heart attack – I would have been properly panicking; the future of the ranch depends on this decision."
Nobody who has to live under Swale council will be in the least surprised! https://t.co/KLTyVPgFw8
— Simon Levack (@SimonLevack) September 8, 2021
She added: "I kept thinking this was going to go to the planning committee in September, but now because of this, it's probably going to be delayed even further.
"At this rate, we are probably not going to know by Christmas. It's just awful not knowing."
Swale council have said that the junior officer had no knowledge of the applications, wholeheartedly believed they were working in a test environment and entered the inappropriate comments simply to test the system.
The council said an investigation is being carried out "to ensure that lessons are learned and any necessary action in relation to the conduct of officers involved is taken".
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