Hopkins seems to be saying that Ferguson's conduct was no different to what one would expect from any other developer trying to secure the best possible deal (so that's all right then?) but implying that Bishop's conduct looks dubious and may be symptomatic of a deeper malaise in the Council.
But I'll let you judge for yourselves. Here's (most of) Gary Hopkins' comment (plus my typographical corrections):
Basically sound points, but I don't think it fair to say that the suggestion is simply that something "illegal" occurred. The suggestion is that the way in which the decision to sell the land to Squarepeg was made was improper and clandestine. Would that constitute illegality? I don't know. But it does give rise to suspicions of something resembling bribery which is what Council procedures should always be at pains to avoid.
I think the root of the problem is the Council's obsession with working in Partnership with other interested parties which blurs the vitally important distinction between the Council itself and the variety of vested interests they have to deal with.
So in the Chocolate Factory example the developer, Squarepeg, through its agents Pegasus Planning Group et al, has entered into a Planning Performance Agreement with the council which seems to allow them to fast track through the system in a privileged way and which gives undue credibility to the 'public consultations' that they have carried out on their own account.
One manifestation of this was that the Squarepeg were invited to make an informal presentation to the Planning Committee well in advance of any Planning Application even being submitted, so ensuring that the Committee will be predisposed towards the Planning Application when they come to determine it. No such facility is offered to objectors of course.
Bristol Greengage also makes some pertinent comments about this, rather more wittily than I can manage, and BB has just posted on this too.