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School approval and High Court action Clifden Road



Apr 2012:

  • RISC announced that it was joining forces with the British Humanist Association to mount a legal challenge to Richmond Council’s decision to offer the Clifden Road site to the Catholic Church without inviting or considering alternative academy bids. The BHA had decided to become involved because of the national implications of the case, which would test the meaning of ambiguous wording in the new Education Act.
  • Plans for an 8-form community secondary school in neighbouring North Kingston were shelved, with knock-on effects for Richmond’s Secondary School admissions forecasts.

May 2012:

  • Richmond Council published the results of the borough-wide Consultation, which showed that 98% of Catholics were in favour of the school, whereas 73% of non-Catholics (including a majority of Anglicans) were against it.
  • Significantly, the “on-line” consultation was now being officially referred to as “on-line and paper”. RISC was told by its supporters that paper copies of the consultation had been handed out in churches and schools. It was subsequently revealed that all 1200 paper submissions had been in favour of the Catholic school. The disproportionate number of Catholic respondents inevitably led to an overall majority in favour of the school.
  • The Council’s Education Overview & Scrutiny Committee debated the issue in advance of the key Council Cabinet meeting. Despite a challenge from RISC, Andrew Cole, the Catholic Diocesan Representative on the committee, had received legal advice from the Council that he could vote in the debate. He therefore did not have to declare a prejudicial interest. The Committee supported the Catholic school proposal by one vote.
  • Despite passionate arguments from both sides of the debate, including powerful speeches by six RISC supporters, the Cabinet announced its decision to approve the Diocese of Westminster’s proposals, and lease them the Clifden Road site.
  • RISC published its reaction to the Cabinet’s decision.

Jun 2012:

  • The local Lib Dems echoed RISC’s warning that Twickenham would soon face a severe shortage of Community Secondary School places. Whereas RISC had predicted problems starting in 2015, their analysis brought the date even further forward, to 2013.
  • The Conservative administration defended their secondary school forecasts, and RISC responded to point out flaws in their defence.

Aug 2012:

  • RISC was granted permission for a judicial review of the council’s decision to approve the Clifden Road proposals without first seeking rival bids.

Oct 2012:

  • The Secretary of State Michael Gove stepped in to the legal challenge, arguing that, despite its wording, the new Education Act wasn’t intended to oblige councils to seek alternatives to Voluntary Aided School proposals.
  • RISC responded to incorrect claims by the council that Gove’s intervention meant he supported their decision to accept the Catholic School proposals for Clifden Road.

Nov 2012:

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