While there is nothing particularly newsworthy about residents  falling out with their local council,  the people of  Farnham  have dared to go a stage  further and…

…have been  granted a   Judicial Review  into “Your Waverley’s”  behaviour. 

The claimants, five local residents, including  two  Borough Councillors,  believe that  Waverley Borough Council,  has  broken the law  by  agreeing  very significant changes to a  2003 contract  for major development in their historic  town centre. They argue  this has been done without  putting  the revised   proposals out for retendering,  thereby allowing the  current developer  substantial advantages not available to the original or new competitors.

The  changes  have hurt local council tax payers through a significant loss of  important social and community  benefits, as well as  a  reduction in proposed  land payment by the developer  – down  from  £8.78m. to £3.19m.

In  a previous, and  remarkably  similar, case heard at the High Court, – R(Gottlieb) v Winchester CC [2015]-  the  Judge ruled that,  as a  resident, councillor and  council tax payer,  the claimant had a legitimate  interest in seeking to ensure that his Council  complied with the law, spent public money wisely and  ensured the most appropriate development for the City through open competition. 

In view of this ruling, the five Farnham  claimants  believe they have a very strong case.  They are widely supported by individuals and local  organisations,  with  Farnham Town Council  providing a supporting witness statement.

Perhaps , secretly,  Waverley  actually shares  the Claimants’ view.  Why else would it  have  chosen to  focus so much of its  energy and funds on  attempting to demonstrate that the  claimants do not have any legal right (legal standing) to  challenge its  actions and how it has managed its partnership with the developers?   The Council and its legal team have  pressed, and obtained  the go ahead, for a preliminary hearing, solely devoted to the issue of whether the claimants have  legal standing.  In granting   permission for a  Judicial Review, the Judge saw no reason why  standing should be the subject of a separate  hearing.

(But …. of course it does have the added advantage for “Your Waverley”  of making the Farnham Five shell out even more of their money!)

If   residents  who are council tax payers and, in two cases, Waverley Borough Councillors, are denied the  legal standing  necessary to proceed to Judicial Review, for which a judge has  already given permission,  a damaging and dangerous precedent will be set,  releasing local authorities from the need to  act lawfully and spend wisely, by  ensuring best value for money.   This must be tested in the courts.

Look at the  Crowdjustice website  https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/farnham-brightwells-development  for more details of this fight to establish the right of concerned  residents  and councillors  to legally challenge  whether  the authorities they have elected are acting with wisdom and within the law.    Legal action in the High Court is very expensive please make a pledge. 




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