Parents successful in bid to challenge Wiltshire Council's plans to close local special schools
Families in Wiltshire have been successful in their bid to challenge the Council’s proposals to close down three schools for children with complex needs and disabilities. Dr Keith Lomax of Watkins Solicitors in Bristol & Bath, who specialises in challenging public bodies, was instructed by parent groups supporting two of the schools. Friends of Larkrise School in Trowbridge and St Nicholas School in Chippenham had asked the court to set aside the council’s decision on a number of grounds. This included failure to properly consult before publishing a notice of closure, a breach of public sector equality duties, a breach of statutory provisions for the welfare of children and a pre-determination before considering any of these issues.
On 15 March the High Court granted permission for the Judicial Review and ordered a final hearing in mid-April. Wiltshire Council conceded the case and made it possible for the parent groups to withdraw their court challenge. Dr Lomax said:
“The Council has agreed to set aside the published notices of closure of the three special schools and to go back a step so there will now be an extended period of consultation. The Council will now consider alternatives to its own suggestion of one mega-school to replace the three local schools. Anyone who has already contributed to the consultation can do so again and send in their views on how best to deliver and expand SEND school places in Wiltshire.”