WHITBY residents are to stage a money-spinner to help fund a court fight to protect their playing field from development.
Following North Yorkshire County Council’s decision in October to refuse a village green application by Helredale Neighbourhood Council following a public inquiry, the group’s committee has decided to apply to the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench for judicial review of the decision.
Judicial review is a form of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body and is a challenge to the way the decision has been made.
If an application for judicial review is successful, the court can grant a quashing order – the most commonly requested remedy which overturns an invalid decision that has already been made.
North Yorkshire County Council must then take the decision again applying the proper legal test or following a fair procedure.
Secretary of HNC, Viv Wright, said: “We obtained two separate opinions on the inspector’s decision, from Planning Sanity and the Open Spaces Society, both of which agreed that there are grounds for a judicial review.
“Unfortunately the NYCC committee refused to consider these when making their decision, leaving us no choice but to contact specialist solicitors, who in turn contacted a barrister to act for us.
“Our barrister, Cain Ormondroyd QC, advised us there is certainly a case for judicial review and we feel that it is in the interests of all residents that we pursue the case to this end.
“We have been made aware of several successful village green decisions, made by different inspectors, which have been successful, yet the circumstances and evidence were the same as ours, which leads us to believe that Mr Chapman’s decision must be challenged.”
Chairman Mark Nicholson added it was a difficult decision for the council to make, because they didn’t have enough funds to pay for the legal advice and had to seek a loan to pay the majority of it.
“However, I think that we have made the right decision and we are actively fund-raising so that we can pay off the loan without delay,” he said.
“The cost of taking the case to judicial review will be certainly a five-figure sum.
“But we hope to receive some help with the costs if necessary, so we are hoping that we are successful, then it is usual that the applicant’s costs are met by the defendants.”
A fund-raising night has been arranged at Whitby Fishermen’s Club on Friday 18 February when local band Nostalgia will be performing free of charge.
They are also planning to hold a tombola at the event.
If anyone has any unwanted gifts they can donate for it, or they would like to donate a prize contact treasurer Ann Storr on (01947) 604104 or any committee member.
Tickets for the event are £2 each, and include a prize ticket draw.