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Trustees of Sikh Temple charity fail in High Court challenge to traffic management order

A High Court judge has rejected a legal challenge brought over the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s decision to make a traffic management order imposing additional parking restrictions in an area with a Sikh Temple.

The claimants in Anand & Anor v Royal Borough of Kensington And Chelsea [2019] EWHC 2964 (Admin) were the trustees of the Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) London, a charity which runs a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) at 62 Queensdale Road, London.

They argued that the congregation, many of whom were elderly and less mobile, travelled long distances by car to the Gurdwara. If they were unable to park, they might no longer attend, thus threatening the viability of the Gurdwara at its present site.

Previously, the controlled hours for residents-only parking operated from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays, and from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm on Saturdays. The new controlled hours for residents-only parking put forward by the council will run from 8.30 am to 10.00 pm on weekdays, from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm on Saturdays, and from 1 pm to 5 pm on Sundays.

The claimants advanced two grounds of challenge at the hearing. The first, in relation to consultation, was that:

i) the council acted unfairly in deciding to make the specific order, on 18 June 2019, in breach of the claimants' legitimate expectation, arising from a promise made to them, by the Lead Member for Streets, Planning and Transport, on behalf of the council, at a meeting on 2 April 2019, that before a final decision was made, the council would consult them further, at a meeting;

ii) the consultation was inadequate because consultees were not at any stage adequately informed of the potential impact of an extension of parking restrictions on the Gurdwara and other religious institutions.

The second ground, concerning the public sector equality duty, was that:

i) the council's data about the age and disability of worshippers was inadequate and the financial consequences for the Gurdwara were not considered;

ii) it was irrational to conclude that worshippers could use public transport, and that those with limited mobility could be dropped off by third parties, and that there were alternative parking spaces, without any evidential basis in support;

iii) there had been no proper or conscientious focus on the statutory criteria.

In response the council said:

i) It undertook a lawful consultation and took the consultation responses into account.

ii) There was no representation of sufficient clarity and precision to establish a legitimate expectation of further consultation, in particular a meeting, before the council made its decision.

iii) Even if a legitimate expectation of a further meeting had arisen (which was denied) the first claimant failed to co-operate in arranging a meeting. Therefore it was not unfair to proceed to make a decision.

iv) The council carried out an Equality Impact Assessment which carefully considered the impact of the decision on individuals with protected characteristics. In making its decision, the council applied the relevant statutory criteria, and there was no breach of the public sector equality duty.

Mrs Justice Lang dismissed the claims.

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