Comment posted Misleading journalism from Dunoon Observer by Justin Willey.
The Dunoon proposal is still subject to the statutory consultation process. Surely no-one is suggesting that anything that comes up during that could have no effect on the councils plans?
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Newsroom’s point in relation to schools is well made. To some extent it is not unreasonable that a community seeking to make a legal challenge should bear its own costs – the points to be made are usually straight forward, not of the tortuous legal nature we saw in the Western Isles case. What is not reasonable is that the council / government can intimidate the community out of having the law enforced by the threat of running up huge fees on its own account.
The US system in such cases, and indeed the planning appeals system here are much fairer, each side pays its own fees. After all, if the community arguments are nonsense, the council isn’t obliged to respond beyond denying the claims.
It is ironic that after months of argument, the Court of Session ruled that the Act did exactly what it “said on the tin”, despite counsel for both sides trying to make some very fanciful interpretations.
The ruling showed just how extraordinarily misguided Angus Council’s abortive Judicial Review proceedings were, and how if the Government had properly applied the law in the case of Crossroads school in East Ayrshire, a huge amount of unnecessary distress, expense and political kerfuffle could have been avoided in Argyll and across Scotland.
- So what’s the position with school closures now?
I agree with Tim’s interpretation of how the “presumption” is implemented, in that a council is supposed to demonstrate that all the issues in “matters to have regard to”, especially that there are no viable alternatives to closure BEFORE it even starts a closure consultation. The problem is that in many cases councils have ignored this and the government have allowed them to get away with it – Seilebost being a welcome, but rare, exception.
FA readers may remember the first closure case to be considered under the act – Crossroads in East Ayrshire. One of the many grounds that call-in was requested in that case was that the council’s statement on item 2 in Tim’s list, impact on the community, said words to the effect – there is no built-up area, therefore no community and therefore there can be no impact – yet the decision was allowed to stand with any call-in to scrutinise the overall merits of the case.
The government has defended its reluctance to intervene on the basis that its legal advice was that its ability to do so was restricted by the wording of the Act. It would now seem that that advice was very poor, and the Act does indeed do “what it says on the tin”.
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Simon – all sorts of decisions taken by councils are subject to appeals processes – licencing, school placements, redundancy, planning decisions, development plan changes, housing allocations etc etc etc. What is being talked about is the right of appeal when decisions have been taken on the basis of demonstrably false information, and we don’t have to look far for an example of that, do we?
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Three of the wrong people, arguably. An industrial tribunal case could bring ABC into even further disrepute. Clearly a tricky one for the elected members to handle as none of this is under their control.
- 81%-full Hillhead school closed on an educational benefit statement copied from Arbroath? Who needs a law?
I’m afraid it’s the old story, you can enact as many laws as you like, but it’s pointless if you don’t enforce them.
Only the Scottish Government can enforce the the Schools Consultation Act, the legislation provides no route for anyone else to do it.
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