Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 5, 2018

Trouble In Tarleton?

In a letter to the Champion , a County Councillor who is also a Tarleton Parish Councillor, Malcolm Barron, is surprised that a Skelmersdale Borough Councillor, Gail Hodson, is commenting on Tarleton issues. Leaving aside the fact of her home address being in Sutton Avenue Tarleton, how many WLBC elected members live in the wards they represent? Here in Aughton we are 60% represented by outcasts from their homes in Halsall. Would it surprise readers to know that they are seldom seen here, which is no great loss?

Cllr Barron  claims that councillors cannot express opinions on the proposals as that would prevent them from speaking at future planning meetings. Many councillors are decision ditherers, hiding behind old perceptions of actual bias or predetermination, but the courts invented the concept of “apparent” bias and predetermination. The classic test is found in Porter v Magill [2002] 2 AC 357: “The question is whether the fair-minded and informed observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased”.

A string of cases indicated judicial intolerance of any evidence of bias or predetermination. Finally, though, another distinction was drawn, between ‘predetermination’, which is unlawful, and ‘predisposition’, which is not. In the more recent cases, for example R (On the Application of Island Farm Development & Anor) v Bridgend County Borough Council [2006] EWHC Admin 2189 and Persimmon Homes Teeside Limited v R (on the application of Kevin Paul Lewis) [2008] EWCA Civ 746, the courts recognised that councillors will legitimately have firm views about issues which they have to decide, and will have expressed those views, and that this should be allowed.

But it seems that some leopards are unwilling to change their spots.

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