Save Princes Parade Campaign missed glaring opportunity to win Judicial Review

One has to wonder about the ability of some of those involved in the Save Princes Parade Campaign.

It’s clear they missed an opportunity that was so glaringly obvious, they still seek to lay blame and responsibility of the destruction of Princes Parade at the feet of the Council, when they too should shoulder some of that responsibility.

In May 2019, both Jim Martin and Lesley Whybrow stepped down from the Save Princes Parade Campaign, as they were elected to the District Council.

On 18 July 2019 Folkestone & Hythe District Council planning committee granted planning consent  for Princes Parade.

The Save Princes Parade Campaign instructed their solicitors – Richard Buxton – to request a judicial review of the planning decision . A Pre Action Protocol Letter was sent,  and as expected the Council refused to withdraw their planning consent.

Papers for the judicial review were lodged with the High Court in Sept 2019.

There were two grounds for the Save Princes Parade Campaign Judicial Review

  1. The Officer’s Report significantly misled the Planning Committee by failing to advise it that the application breached policies CSD7 of the Council’s Core Strategy Local Plan (2013) and Policies TM8 and LR9 of the saved policies of the Shepway Local Plan (2006). “This is a virtually identical error to that found in R(Butler) v East Dorset District Council [2016] EWHC 1527 (Admin)…,” the claimant said.

  2. The Officer’s Report significantly misled the Planning Committee by failing to apply policies in the National Planning Policy Framework in relation to “areas at risk of flooding”.

Both grounds failed and then failed again at appeal.

However, there should have been a third ground included, but those responsible in the campaign were either too blind, or too stupid to notice the publicly available detail, and it’s always the detail that matters in cases like these.

One week before Cllr Jim Martin (Green) and Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) stepped down from the Save Princes Parade Campaign committee, Folkestone and Hythe District Council started a contract with Faithful and Gould. The estimated value of the contract was £1,270,705. But, yes there’s a but, the contract was awarded on the 20 June 2019, yet started on the 29 April 2019.

Judicial review proceedings are an audit of the legality of decision-making by public bodies in the UK.

The scope of judicial review is limited both in its availability and function: the role of the court is not to re-make the decision being challenged, or to inquire into the merits of that decision, but to conduct a review of the process by which the decision was reached in order to assess whether that decision was flawed and should be revoked.

So could the Save Princes Parade Campaign committee, and/or any of its members past or present, inform us how you start a contract before it is awarded?

And how do you pay, yes pay nearly £200,000 pounds before the contract had been awarded?

This does not follow the Council’s procurement rules, nor the OJEU rules either.

The Council state the contract with Faithful and Gould was suspended in September 2019 while planning permission was considered for judicial review. Yet Faithful and Gould received payment in August, Sept and Oct 2019, bringing the total they were paid, to more than half a million pounds. The contract was re-instated on the 29 January 2021.

Surely it’s right and proper to ask how the Save Princes Parade Campaign and their former high profile committee members – District Cllrs J. Martin (Green) and L. Whybrow (Green)  – how the campaign missed this evidence in the public domain at the time?

And how and why it was not included in the judicial review?

Did they want it to fail?

Or were they simply elevated to the level of their incompetence, as per the Peter Principle?

The process of awarding a contract comes first, then the contract begins. This is laid out in black and white in the Council’s constitution. As such, the process by which the decision was reached to award the contract with Faithful & Gould, after it had started, was flawed and unlawful. This may well have won the judicial review proceedings brought by the campaign, if it had been included. But of course we’ll never know now, as the time to challenge the contract has passed.

No doubt the Save Princes Parade Group will be condescending and say something like the contract for professional services and a planning permission are not in any way connected. But they are as case law in two interesting cases makes very clear. No doubt they’ll say something like the proposed development on Princes Parade is long and full of complex detail, and can be easily misunderstood, by those who’ve not followed it since the beginning. But it’s not complex, nor have we misunderstood. The Faithful & Gould contract was relevant to the JR, as case law makes clear. Why they chose not to use it, or even put it to their Solicitor – Richard Buxton – only they know.  

Putting one’s faith in Cllr L. Whybrow and Cllr J. Martin on the evidence available, is neither wise or prudent we honestly believe. They missed the detail which could have put an end to Princes Parade. Instead the project moves on at pace and there is seemingly little one can do to stop it.

Our personal position is we want it stopped. However, that is fast becoming an option which is slipping away from those opposed to the development on Princes Parade. [It ain’t over to the fat lady sings]

All we can hope for is that in the future we keep Cllr J. Martin and Cllr L. Whybrow as far away from any committee as possible, as it’s clear they do not in our honest opinion, have the nous to see the detail, which in a judicial review is all important.

The Shepway Vox Team

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About shepwayvox (1399 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

14 Comments on Save Princes Parade Campaign missed glaring opportunity to win Judicial Review

  1. It does seem odd that these 2 people left the Campaign to become Councillors. One would think they were planted in the Campaign to deliberately make it fail. Of which they were sucessfull.

  2. It saddens me to read this as I contributed towards the Princes Parade Judicial Review. Now I can say with a level of confidence, the Save Princes Parade Campaign was Lions led by donkeys.

  3. I wish the Green Party would deselect them, as both of them are seriously overrated. Much of the time they don’t even respond to emails. Work shy it appears they be.

    As a Shepway Green Party member, if I were to put in the paperwork to deselect them, the backlash privately would be immense. But it would ultimately be worth it.

    • In reply to C G:

      If Shepway Greens do not deselect them then they will simply fade away. They are led by a cabal with one sole interest – SPP – and have zero interest in matters affecting the rest of the district.

  4. As I said, the public face of the Shepway Vox Team will be physically harmed and punished for writing shit about my friends Lesley & Jim of the Shepway Green Party

  5. The question should be was this information readily available when the judicial review was submitted? If Shepwayvox knew about it before the JR and didn’t inform the SPP campaign can you really claim to be serious about holding the council to account?

    • The Shepway Vox Team // June 16, 2021 at 19:03 // Reply

      It is quite clear the information was in the public domain prior to the Judicial Review.

      The Shepway Vox Team are not responsible for the actions of the Save Princes Parade Campaign group. People were given a heads upd via email (yes there is an audit trail). They failed to act, they failed to check, they and they alone are responsible.

      • Interesting that you didn’t write about this on your blog at the time… Assuming you did inform SPPG back in 2019 then it was no doubt passed to their legal team who decided not to include it in the JR after due consideration. Since any discussion between SPPG & their solicitors is privileged information you don’t know what was considered for inclusion in the JR and are assuming said information was ignored.
        If your audit trail exists and is a genuine ‘smoking gun’ then I dare you to publish it. (Put your money where your mouth is.)

      • The Shepway Vox Team // June 17, 2021 at 09:46 //

        SJS – We’ve already published the fact that we contacted the campaign on the 18th July 2019, as is clear in our blog post of the same date.

        See – https://shepwayvox.org/2019/07/18/folkestone-hythe-district-council-grant-planning-permission-for-princes-parade/

        We know they did NOT consider this nor did they pass it along to their solicitors – Richard Buxton – that’s a fact.

  6. This is harsh. Campaigns like this always rely on the hard work and commitment of people who are doing their best. they are not experts and nor did they ever claim to be. I don’t know either Jim or Leslie personally but it was evident that they worked very hard on this campaign. And have been elected with the belief that they could achieve more as part of the council. its easy for someone to point out how simple it might have been .. but where were you all at the time ?

    • The Shepway Vox Team // June 17, 2021 at 16:06 // Reply

      Hi SC

      SJS – We’ve already published the fact that we contacted the campaign on the 18th July 2019, as is clear in our blog post of the same date.

      See – https://shepwayvox.org/2019/07/18/folkestone-hythe-district-council-grant-planning-permission-for-princes-parade/

      We know the Save Princes Parade Campaign did NOT consider this, nor did they pass it along to their solicitors – Richard Buxton – that’s a fact.

      • I stand corrected – it is indeed covered in your post of 18th July, but not mentioned again until now… despite several posts promoting the SPPC fundraising for the JR which you now deem flawed from the outset.

        It’s pretty bold to claim that SPPC did not consider the matter nor discuss it with their solicitors – again where is your proof / evidence? If you weren’t party to the discussions how can you state it as fact?

        It is also rather childish to decry people as stupid just because they don’t follow your advice or agree with your point of view. The original discovery & disclosure of the council awarding the contract in advance of planning consent was laudable, but I feel Shepwayvox has lessened that achievement by launching a churlish personal attack on both the SPPC and two councillors who have striven to stop the development as far as they can within our democratic framework.

      • The Shepway Vox Team // June 17, 2021 at 23:06 //

        SJS

        The point we raised was ignored and was NOT put forward to Richard Buxton, the campaign’s solicitors. We can be unequivocal about this as some of the committee members of the SPPC made that known to us. They were more than miffed, but did not rock the boat.

        We did not believe two grounds for a judicial review were sufficient, so urged the SPPC in the strongest terms possible to include our legal points, but this fell not just on death ears, but was brushed away as it was deemed irrelevant to the cause.

        We fail to understand how is it childish to inform those with no legal training, who believed our point could not be judicially reviewed, when all the evidence in the public domain made it clear procurement decisions could be JR’d

        Those who profess to know better when they don’t, including the Cllrs who had eyes on our legal points for inclusion, shouldn’t be left in charge of the light brigade, as that was a disaster too.

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