Posted by: westlancashirerecord | July 21, 2016

Councillor Sam Currie RN Rtd Nailed His Colours To His Mast

For our Aughton & Downholland council representation on the crucial matter of the ward being at the centre of the seismic survey area for the local fracking proposals PEDL164 PEDL164%20location, step forward newly elected Samuel Peter Currie RN Rtd, David O’Toole who long ago achieved his reputation of boring anyone who listened to him, and David Westley whose list of achievements is reflected in the current state of his party.

To the surprise of local residents Sam Currie came from nowhere, no previous leg work, no “apprenticeship” in standing in the Labour heartlands. No requirement that has been imposed on Eddy (I’ve been everywhere man) McCarthy for years in hopes of being elected. Sam Currie was simply chosen regardless, as was now Cllr M Westley, and despite being “intouch” in Spring 2016 he told us nothing about fracking. Seems he had no opinion on it he wished to share with us or wasn’t allowed to.

In January 2016 at Full Council on fracking, Councillors Ashcroft, Mrs Atherley, Barron, Mrs Baybutt, Mrs Blake, Blane, Mr C Evans, Mrs R Evans, Forshaw, Greenall, Mrs Houlgrave, Kay, C Marshall, Mrs Marshall, Mee Ms Melling, O’Toole, Pope, Mrs Stephenson, D Westley, and Whittington, left the room as had been indicated by Councillor Westley, they were of the view that they were unable to take part in the debate as they could not determine they were able to do so. No support for rurality!

And, as the campaign group Halsall Against Fracking halsallaginstfracking published “It begs the question that, if they always refuse outright to represent their constituents on matters such as building housing on green belt and fracking quoting “pre-determination” (rubbish!), why do we bother to elect a Borough Councillor?

At the most recent Borough Council Seminar/Workshop on the Standards Regime and Code of Conduct July 2016 those who attended received the Planning Advisory/LGA shared public document “Probity In Planning for Councillors and Officers”. This guidance is intended to facilitate the development of councillors’ community engagement roles. A useful test to determine whether a position or view could be considered to be biased is to think about whether a fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility of bias. Predetermination goes beyond predisposition and essentially evades the process of weighing and balancing relevant factors and taking into account other viewpoints. A distinction is drawn by the courts between a planning councillor having clearly expressed an intention to vote in a particular way before a meeting (predetermination), and a predisposition to an initial view, but where the councillor is clear they are willing to listen to all the material considerations presented at the committee before deciding on how to exercise their vote on behalf of the community. In the latter case there is no predetermination”.

As the Borough solicitor stated last night the determination of a planning application, which wasn’t on the agenda anyway, is not strictly a ‘quasi-judicial’ process. Not that Cllr Currie is on the planning committee anyway! So why did Cllr Currie let us down? He’d stated before election of his Government’s protection of the greenbelt against solar and wind that actually WE locals fought rather well. But there was one crucial message he included “The Secretary of State issued guidance by way of a letter requiring the concerns of local communities to be taken into account and not ignored”.

Was the word “abstain” muttered by Cllr Currie last night after Westley and O’Toole walked out a reflection of what was in that guidance? Of course not. But Cllr Currie RN Rtd steered himself aground just as his party colleagues did. Community engagement, don’t make me laugh!


Responses

  1. Given the motion, the lack of representation for constituent views in wards with solely Conservative councillors was inexplicable.

    The conflicts of interest caused when people are both county and borough councillors was again underlined as several councillors -there last night as borough councillors – left the Chamber because they were “dual-hatted”.

    • The advice from the solicitor made it clear, I thought, but then as you say the dual-hatters left…I see Cllr Greenall will apparently not wear two hats IF he is selected and elected for his home county division.

  2. Yet again the protective cloak of “predetermination” used by those who refuse to declare their views and thoughts on very serious local and national issues. Interesting times for those who are up for election next year when challenged by the residents on their stance! Strongly suggest that they read up on the code of conduct rules, pity they didn’t turn up to the free course laid on by WLBC last week.

    • Yes, I understand 7 people attended, including 2 from Halsall. Beatson J in R on the application of Persimmon Homes Ltd v Vale of Glamorgan Council which provided:“Predetermination is the surrender by a decision-maker of its judgment by having a closed mind and failing to apply it to the task. In a case of apparent bias, the decision-maker may have in fact applied its mind quite properly to the matter but a reasonable observer would consider that there was a real danger of bias on its part. Bias is concerned with appearances whereas predetermination is concerned with what has in fact happened”. I suspect those who want to be county councillors next year ought to take notice of what their commitment is to their local communities.


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