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
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  EWHC 1527 (Admin)…,” the claimant said.
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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