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Welsh council facing judicial review challenge over skatepark development

Judicial review proceedings have been filed against City & County of Swansea Council (CCSC) over the way in which it transferred ownership of a site to Mumbles Community Council (MCC) as part of a plan to build a skatepark on the land.

Swansea Council recently accepted proposals for the skatepark in January 2021 and subsequently transferred the lease to the community council. But the £360,000 project in Llwynderw, Swansea has now been paused following the claims of seven nearby residents.

The claimants, who are residents of Mumbles Road, are bringing the judicial review on the following three grounds:

  1. The decision was based on CCSC's conclusion that the site was the best available location for a new skate park. That conclusion was based on an irrelevant consideration, was irrational, and was reached in breach of the claimants' legitimate expectations.
  2. CCSC reached the decision without complying with its Community Asset Transfer Policy and/or with the Land Transaction Procedure Rules contained in Part 4.7 of CCSC's constitution, with the consequence that the decision was unlawful.
  3. CCSC reached the Decision without considering objections to the proposed lease that had been received by CCSC, with the consequence that the Decision (or alternatively the grant of the lease which is approved by the decision) was unlawful pursuant to section 123(2A) of the Local Government Act 1972.

A barrister from No5 Barrister Chambers is representing the claimants.

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Responding to the judicial review proceedings in an April report, the Chair of the community council, Martin O'Neill, said: "The judicial review is what it is and those who have called for it are entitled to do so. Although some of us may see this process as a nuisance which delays something that we have put a lot of time and effort into we, as a council, need to co-operate and contribute to its successful completion even though the review is not into our processes. We should view the judicial review as simply an element of scrutiny that we as a council must expect to be open to at all times."

He added: "It should be in our interests that the review is completed as quickly and as comprehensively as possible as when it is there should (I would hope) be no further questions to answer. It is only by operating in an open and upfront manner that MCC can maintain the public confidence that we are operating in a competent and professional manner."

The claimants are currently waiting for the council to acknowledge service of the documents.

A spokesperson for Swansea said: "The Council has been served with court proceedings relating to a judicial review of the decision to dispose of land at West Cross to Mumbles Community Council for use as a skate park.

"This action is a disappointing response to a proposed community project that has the potential to benefit and support the wellbeing of many young people in Swansea now and in the coming years. It is clear that the process to date has demonstrated a need and support for such a skate park for young people in our communities.

"We are studying the contents of the court documents and will respond in due course. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

Adam Carey

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