NEW application for a JR – this time against Dorset Council

NEW application for a JR – this time against Dorset Council

Following the High Court’s refusal of a claim against the Home Office a couple of days ago, a fresh application for a judicial review – this time against Dorset Council – has been issued.

The claim asks the High Court to examine Dorset Councils’ ongoing failure to take enforcement action over the placement of the Bibby Stockholm at Portland Port, where the barge is connected to a finger pier and access road – and its use to contain asylum-seekers. This is despite the fact that planning permission hasn’t been sought by the Home Office.

Carralyn Parkes, the Portland resident who issued the first challenge against the Home Office, is challenging the ongoing decision by Dorset Council that it has NO planning jurisdiction over the barge in Portland Harbour. She’s asking the court to find that Dorset Council erred in deciding it can’t take enforcement action. (Enforcement action was threatened at Linton-on-Ouse last year, leading to the dropping of the plans there, and is currently underway at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. See my round-up of all the sites for more on this.)

The significance

Mr Justice Holgate’s refusal of the claim against the Home Office earlier this week suggested that the Home Office is not the correct target. He seemed to place responsibility for planning objections solely on local authorities. The claimant now has no option but to issue against Dorset Council. Finding that they have jurisdiction over the barge would allow the nature of the plans to be properly examined. This is therefore a significant planning case with wider implications for local authorities.

Dorset Council as defendant

Ms Parkes had been reluctant to name Dorset Council as defendant, recognising the very difficult position in which the Home Office has placed the local authority. Nevertheless, she strongly disagrees with Dorset Council’s ongoing determination that it doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Bibby Stockholm.

She said: “The decision to accommodate people in this way in Portland has been imposed upon us as the local community without any consultation, without proper processes being followed, and without local people having the opportunity to raise concerns and objections. I believe that in the twenty-first century, the Bibby Stockholm is a wholly unsuitable place to house asylum-seekers and I am very concerned about the risks to the vulnerable people who will shortly again be accommodated on the barge”.

As with the initial judicial review application against the Home Office, it is hoped that the court will again expedite the permission hearing.