A COUNCIL leader has rejected complaints that she and a cabinet colleague showed contempt towards residents by making their minds up on a controversial issue before hearing everyone’s views.

Councillor Heather Scott has defended her decision to create what campaigners have dubbed “a victory video” with economy portfolio holder Cllr Alan Marshall in advance of a lengthy and fractious debate, featuring numerous public speakers, over its development blueprint for Darlington borough.

The video, which was posted on the authority’s Facebook page immediately after councillors voted to push the Local Plan forward, features Cllr Scott stating she was delighted with the decision and that it was “for the benefit of everybody who lives in the town”.

A spokesman for the council said: “We have received an official complaint regarding this matter and our officers are in the process of dealing with this.”

Campaigners said they had been angered that the Conservative councillors had produced the video in advance of the vote, and accused them of “pre-determination”, which is outlawed under the Localism Act 2011.

They said: “The complaints seek to have the vote declared null and void and if there is a re-run, disqualify councillors Scott and Marshall from taking part.”

Cllr Scott, who was first elected as a councillor for the authority in 1976, said while members needed to avoid pre-determining decisions when considering planning applications, the same rules did not apply to other council meetings.

However, she said: “We produced two videos. One for if the Local Plan went through and one if it did not. We had absolutely no idea of what the vote would be. This is how things operate these days.”

She added as members had been considering the Local Plan for many months “you could say every single member of the council had pre-determined".

Leader of the council’s Labour group Cllr Stephen Harker said it had been unnecessary for the video to be posted on social media straight after the vote.

He said: “This video has given the wrong impression of what council is about and has left a bad taste. People expect honest debate and for councillors to go into decision-making meetings with an open mind.”