The legal challenge by six local authorities over the decision to stop funding for the renewal of some of its schools has succeeded.
The High Court has decided that the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, reached his decision unlawfully and will have to think again. Although there is no guarantee that the building projects will now continue, the judge has said that Mr Gove must now look at the position of particular projects with an open mind.
The court decided that the original decision to stop funding for the six authorities which went to court was unlawful because “the way in which the Secretary of State abruptly stopped the projects . . without any prior consultation . . [was] so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power”. The Secretary of State “must now, after giving each of them a reasonable opportunity to make representations, reconsider his decision insofar as it affects the claimants and each of the projects in relation to which they have claimed, with an open mind, paying due regard to any representations they may make."
The court also found that Mr Gove had failed to have any regard at all to his statutory duties to consider the equal opportunities implications of his decision, and criticised the government’s evidence about this issue as “highly unconvincing”.
Commenting on the judgement Emily Heard, Partner at Bevan Brittan Solicitors, acting for one of the claimants, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, said "This case sends a signal to all public bodies making difficult decisions about cuts that they must actively consider the impact of those cuts on the people affected by them, and consult with those people where necessary."