It was, by any measure, an extraordinary way of reaching a decision. So much so that the term 'fix' looks like the right one. On the balance of probability, of course.
Right at the start we had Cllr Peter Abraham dismiss the widespread concerns that he might not be fully open-minded (bearing in mind his declaration last month that he is "convinced we should reject the inspector's advice. I don't think this qualifies as a town green and it brings the process into disrepute."). That, he explained, was before he joined this committee and was invited to chair it. Now, he is 100% open minded. He's taken advice and is confident that he is beyond any legal challenge.
So that was all right, children.
The meeting papers did not include the report of the independent Inspector, Ross Crail, who had (together with two barristers) thoroughly tested the evidence of witnesses brought by the applicants and the objectors - and concluded that the land does qualify as a Town Green. Someone, somewhere, had decided that the committee needn't bother with that.
Nor did the papers include the 'further evidence', crucial to the officers' recommendation. Why read it when you can be fed a carefully chosen selection?
There was only the officer's 13 page report, and of that only three pages were dedicated to the 'further evidence' of objectors and applicants - roughly in the proportion of 4:1 - as summarised by the council's own chief finance officer, who doesn't seem ever to have been involved in a Town Green application before.
Public statements came first. Most of the committee looked bored, even when our Stockwood councillor ignored all the reminders that this is about past use of the site and waxed enthusiastic about its development potential. The Green Party statement was listed at No 80 (of 80) so I never got the chance to speak to it.
The Chief Executive, Jan Ormondroyd, told members what their options were. When she said one is to approve the whole site as a Town Green, she added 'but that wouldn't take the new evidence into account'. A serious misdirection there, Jan. Of course they could do both.
After a few desultory questions (at least one of them showing the papers hadn't been read or absorbed), and a comment from Cllr Alex Woodman that the information was wholly inadequate, we waited for the meat of the discussion. What did members actually think? What value did they attach to the evidence, and why? Would they question the Chair's integrity?
It didn't happen. From the Chair, Cllr Abraham simply took it straight to a vote on the recommendation before them. Six hands were raised. The deed was done.
The two dissenting members were Alex Woodman and Neil Harrison. Neil gives his own perspective on his own blog