Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED May 20, 2003

Traffic orders were quashed where a local authority councillor, acting in his capacity as a member of the council's executive, had pre-determined the issue of whether to re-open a road prior to consultation taking place.Application under Sch.9, para 35 Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to quash three traffic orders made by the defendant ('the council') in respect of the re-opening of a road. Following local council elections in May 2002, the council indicated its intention to consider re-opening a road, Partingdale Lane ('the Lane'). Prior to consideration of the issue at a meeting of the council's planning and environment committee, the matter was withdrawn from the agenda following a decision to proceed by way of a delegated powers report. The report was made by a councillor, acting in his capacity as member of the council cabinet responsible for the environment. The report included not only a recommendation, but also a decision that the Lane would be re-opened. In September 2002, the proposed traffic orders were advertised as part of the consultation process. All objections to the proposed orders were subsequently overruled and the orders came into effect on 20 December 2002, namely: (i) the Barnet (Prescribed Route) (No.1) (Revocation) Traffic Order 2002; (ii) the Barnet (Weight Restriction) (No.1) Traffic Order 2002; and (iii) the Barnet (20mph Speed Limit) (No.7) Traffic Order 2002. The orders were suspended by an interim court order made by Hooper J on 20 January 2003 pending hearing of the present application.HELD: (1) Consultation had to occur when a proposal was at a formative stage and the decision-maker had to have an open mind on the issue of principle involved. (2) As the decision in the August 2002 report highlighted, it was clear that the councillor had predetermined the issue of principle of re-opening the Lane when it was at its formative stage and prior to any consultation taking place. His approach to that issue had gone beyond a legitimate predisposition and beyond merely giving considerable weight to his own election manifesto commitment that the Lane be re-opened. (3) Subsequent events during the consultation process did not cure the defect of predetermination by the councillor. (4) The orders had to be quashed.Application allowed. Permission to appeal granted.

[2003] EWHC 947 Admin