Watkins Solicitors takes Wiltshire to judicial review over special school closures

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Watkins Solicitors takes Wiltshire to judicial review over special school closures

Keith Lomax discusses legal challenge to council plans for special schools on BBC Radio Wiltshire

Watkins’ solicitor Dr Keith Lomax, who specialises in challenging public bodies, is instructed by parent groups supporting two of the schools that the council plans to close. Friends of Larkrise School in Trowbridge and St Nicholas School in Chippenham are asking the court to set aside the council’s decision on a number of grounds. 

Keith Lomax

Judicial Review proceedings were issued in the Administrative Court in Cardiff on 21 February 2019, to challenge a decision by Wiltshire County Council to close 3 local schools for children with complex needs and disabilities.

The council’s decision was made on 27 November 2018 despite their own survey showing over 71% were in favour of keeping all three local schools. The council wants to build a ‘super’ special school instead, and close the 3 local schools, yet this one-school option was only supported by 11% in the council’s survey.

The grounds of challenge include failure to properly consult before publishing a notice of closure, breach of public sector equality duties, breach of statutory provisions for the welfare of children, and appearance of pre-determination.

The court has already ordered expedition and a hearing is to be scheduled before the council next meets on 26 March. By then the council will have concluded its period of statutory consultation, which began on 9 January, and expects to make a final decision on the proposed closures. 

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