A judicial review of the decision to allow former university halls of residence in Stafford to be turned into accommodation for asylum seekers would not succeed.
That was the verdict of an experienced planning lawyer who was asked to review the decision of the government-appointed Planning Inspector to see if there were grounds to launch further legal action.
The written opinion to Stafford Borough Council states: “I regret to inform the Council that in all the circumstances of this case there are no reasonable prospects at all of a successful application for statutory judicial review. In my opinion any application would not get through the permission stage.”
The Borough Council refused an application by Serco - who work on behalf of the Home Office - to change the site on the town’s Beaconside to a centre for around 480 asylum seekers. But Serco appealed and, following a four-day public inquiry, the decision of the council was overturned.
The local authority instructed an independent legal expert to see if there was a realistic chance of successfully challenging the judgement of the planning inspector.
Borough Council leader, Aidan Godfrey, said: “The advice from experienced legal counsel is categorical and clear - there are no reasonable prospects of a judicial review being successful.
“I know this may not be the news some people want to hear but it would be foolish to ignore the advice and spend potentially tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on a legal challenge that will fail.”
The leader added that other ‘interested parties’ could launch an action for Judicial Review but said the borough council would now be prioritising the safety and wellbeing of their community - and liaising with Serco to ensure the local authority was fully briefed on their plans.
He continued: “We must now lobby the Home Office and central government for the necessary levels of funding and resources that will be required to make sure we can look after our residents and those people who will be here on a temporary basis - and it was good to see our local MP is supportive of that approach too.”
You can see more information about the appeal from www.staffordbc.gov.uk/public-inquiry
An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country, often suddenly, because they are faced with persecution, war or violence, or trafficked to the UK. They stay in temporary accommodation until their asylum request has been processed.
Press Release No 6051