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Cycling charity secures permission from Court of Appeal for judicial review challenge over removal of bike lanes, after earlier High Court refusal

The Court of Appeal has given the go-ahead for a judicial review of West Sussex County Council's decision to remove a cycle lane installed during the pandemic.

The county council installed the bike lane, which ran along a main road in Shoreham-by-Sea, using government funding provided to local authorities to encourage people to cycle during the pandemic.

Cycling UK, the charity bringing the challenge, initially had its application refused by the High Court but received permission from the Court of Appeal last week.

The charity first lodged its application for a judicial review in February this year. It claimed that the council failed to take into account or comply with statutory guidance issued under section 18 of the Traffic Management Act, namely that the council failed to have regard to that guidance, or failed to comply with or misdirected itself concerning that guidance.

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In its initial application, the charity also pursued grounds of irrationality and breach of the public sector equality duty based on information the charity said the council saw which showed the scheme was especially beneficial for children accessing local secondary schools. However, the Court of Appeal last week refused Cycling UK permission to pursue this ground.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK's head of campaigns, said the charity was "delighted the Court of Appeal agreed that the issues raised in this case, especially the requirement for highway authorities to properly consider the government's statutory guidance, must be fully considered".

Dollimore said the case had implications beyond West Sussex, "because if councils can ignore this guidance with impunity, the government's 'Gear Change' vision to get more people walking and cycling will be stuck in first gear".

He added: "Councils should not be at liberty to ignore national policy commitments and carry on regardless, prioritising motor traffic at the expense of active travel while paying lip service to their own sustainability, environmental and climate-change commitments."

The charity is appealing for donations to its 'Cyclist's Defence Fund' to cover its legal costs.

In its response to the Court of Appeal's decision, the charity said it hoped the final hearing would take place before the end of the year.

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We are currently considering the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow elements of Cycling UK’s case to proceed and its implications before deciding our next steps.

“As promised when the decision to remove the temporary cycleway was made, we have recently consulted on proposals for a permanent solution for the road and our officers continue to analyse the results. We would like to thank all those for taking part and providing feedback.”

Adam Carey

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