Cllr. S.K. Hunt welcomed all to the meeting and asked the Head of Legal and Democratic Services to address Members with advice on pre-determination.
The Head of Legal and Democratic Services addressed Members.
As you will be aware there is a report on the agenda today regarding the School Strategic Improvement Plan.
This proposal is a new and fresh decision that members will make, so the fact that you may have voted in a particular way at a previous meeting, will not amount to pre-determination provided you retain a genuinely open mind in respect of this new meeting.
As you will know, when arriving at decisions relating to any of the Councils business, you must do so with an open mind and consider all the information before you objectively, having due regard to the advice of officers. During the decision-making process, you must act fairly and in the public interest. You are required to make your decisions on the basis of the facts in front of you, and not to have made your mind up in advance of the meeting.
If you consider that you have come to a settled view or decision in respect of this matter and are unable or unwilling to take into account any other representations or advice, or a member of the public may feel that in taking into account all matters there is a risk, you will in all likelihood have predetermined the matter. Accordingly if you feel you have predetermined your position you should not be taking part in any vote. Pre-determination could not only invalidate the decision, it could lead to proceedings being brought against the Council and it may also amount to a breach of the Members Code of Conduct. This would be the opportunity for you to declare that.
You are entitled to hold a preliminary view about a particular matter in advance of a meeting (otherwise known as pre-disposition) as long as you keep a genuinely open mind and are prepared to consider the merits of all the arguments and points made about the matter under consideration before reaching your decision.
It should be noted that the determination here is one for members to decide.
For the sake of clarity, manifesto commitments and policy statements which are consistent with a preparedness to consider and weigh relevant factors when reaching the final decision, are examples of legitimate predisposition, not predetermination. In addition, previously expressed views on matters which arise for decision in the ordinary run of events are routine provided you are able to approach this particular decision with an open mind.