Barnet Council to pay £2million CPZ refund as One Barnet outsourcing scheme given the go-ahead
- Credit: Archant
The end of two long-running legal battles for Barnet Council brought celebration and commiseration for community campaigners as landmark decisions were made this week.
On Friday, the council was given the go-ahead to proceed with its controversial One Barnet outsourcing scheme after successfully defending a judicial review claim from disabled pensioner Maria Nash, 68, in the Court of Appeal.
On the same day the council announced it would not be appealing a landmark High Court ruling which found increases to charges across controlled parking zones (CPZs) in Barnet in order to pay for other transport projects were unlawful.
The council will now refund every resident who was affected by the unlawful price hike and requests their money back. It is expected to have to pay out around £2million.
East Finchley resident David Attfield, 46, who took the two-year campaign against the illegal CPZ charges to the High Court, said: “I’m delighted the council has decided not to appeal. I think it’s the right decision legally and morally - we didn’t think they had an appeal case because the law is quite clear.”
Mr Attfield’s parking charge judicial review hearing in July followed disabled pensioner Ms Nash’s High Court battle with Barnet Council over One Barnet in April.
During her court battle, Ms Nash argued that the council had acted unlawfully by failing to consult residents about its plans to outsource a swathe of council services under the One Barnet programme.
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But the mother-of-one, a New Barnet resident, had her claim thrown out by judge Lord Justice Underhill on the grounds it had been launched too late.
She then took her fight to the Court of Appeal but received exactly the same verdict from judges Lord Justice Davis and Lady Justice Gloster, who on Friday also ruled that the judicial review claim had been brought too late.
Reacting to the judges’ decision, Ms Nash said she had “lost all hope” of halting the One Barnet programme.
But she said she wanted to take her case to the Supreme Court in order to get “legal clarification on the time limit within which a judicial review can be applied for”.
The Court of Appeal ruling means Barnet Council is now free to press ahead with the One Barnet scheme, which has been beset by delays due to the legal proceedings.
The council has awarded two contracts, thought to be worth around £320million, to private company Capita to run its back-room services and many of its frontline services for the next 10 years.
The first of these contracts, which were both signed this week, will transfer the running of the council’s back-room services to Capita on September 1.
The second contract with Capita, covering services such as planning, highways and environmental health, will commence on October 1.
Barnet Council leader, Cllr Richard Cornelius, said: “I’m delighted with the judges’ decision. We can all now get on with making the huge savings in our back office costs which we need to do if we are to continue protecting our frontline services.”
In light of last week’s decision not to appeal the judicial review verdict on parking charges, the council has invited affected residents to claim refunds.
Residents who made payments at the increased rates for their annual CPZ charges will be refunded the difference in charge.
The council aims to complete the refund process in eight weeks.