6. Assume that the Local Amenities Act empowers a local authority compulsorily to purchase “any land not in residential use” for the purpose of providing leisure facilities for the area. Further, the Act provides that any decision of an authority is to be final and conclusive.
Percy lives in Westchester. His house has very extensive grounds, part of which he uses for growing roses which he sells by mail order. The newly-elected Westchester Borough Council purporting to act under the above statutory power, imposes a compulsory purchase order on Percy’s land. It was part of the authority’s election manifesto that it would provide a ‘Sea World’ park, to rival that in the adjoining borough. Percy has now learned from a friend who works for Westchester Borough Council that building ‘Sea World’ is proving to be far more expensive than the authority had first anticipated and that the authority intends to recoup some of the costs by selling a portion of Percy’s land to a local developer who plans to build houses on it.
Advise Percy as to whether and how he might challenge this decision and as to his chances of success.
Tom, an elderly retired judge, lives in an old country house in Hantshire, surrounded by several acres of beautiful woodland. He is particularly proud of the woods which are home to many rare species of birds and which are recognised by the British Bird Watching Society (BBWS) as being an area of special interest.
The Secretary of State for the Environment has just confirmed a compulsory purchase order (CPO) made on Tom’s land by Hantshire County Council. The Council and the Secretary of State are purporting to act under the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act 1996. Assume that this Act provides that an authority may impose a CPO “on land which is not in residential use where, in the opinion of the authority, the purchase of the land is necessary to improver the general amenities in the area. Any order made is subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State for the Environment”.
Tom is furious. He has discovered that Hantshire CC intends to use his land to build a science theme park which will attract visitors from all over the world. This scheme has attracted a lot of local opposition, not least because it will cause immense traffic problems in the area, but the Council is determined to go ahead as it sees this as a way of making money.
Tom is further irritated because the Secretary of State for the Environment confirmed the CPO after long discussions with the Secretary of State for Science who has often stated that it is his Department’s policy to build a science theme park to rival those in Europe.
Tom wishes to challenge the legality of the CPO. He is supported in his challenge by the British Bird Watching Society and is wondering whether to allow the BBWS to pursue the action in order to avoid the risk of his pension being eaten up in legal fees.
Advise Tom and the BBWS as to how they might challenge the CPO and as to their chances of success.
8. To what extent do the courts adhere to the principle that an administrative authority must keep politics out of decision-making?
9. Assume that the Education Act 1997 empowers an education authority to give financial assistance in the form of grants to anyone intending to pursue a degree course at a ‘scheduled’ university; the Act stipulates that grants may be given only to applicants who have lived in a borough for the preceding three years and who can demonstrate “financial hardship”.
Antonia applies to Wavering Borough Council for a grant to study law at Boremstiff University which is a scheduled university. She has lived with her parents in the borough all her life. In her application, she details her financial resources, which are very meagre. She points out, further, that her parents cannot afford to help her as they spent considerable sums of money in educating her privately.
Her application is turned down. She receives a letter from the Education Authority which reads as follows; “We regret that we cannot offer you financial assistance. As you will be aware, our funds are limited and we cannot meet every demand. Moreover, this authority was elected in part on the basis of our commitment to State education; we do not therefore think it is appropriate to give funds to someone who has already had the benefit of being educated privately.”
Antonia is very angry at this decision, particularly since she has just heard that her best friend Jemima has been given a grant to study for a diploma in aromatherapy at the Institute of Alternative Medicine. Wavering Council is particularly keen to encourage students at the Institute, a private, commercial enterprise, since the Council has come to an arrangement with the Institute that council employees will be given free treatment there.
Advise Antonia as to her chances of successfully challenging the refusal of her grant and the giving of the grant to Jemima; advise her also as to the procedure by which she should make any challenge.
10. To what extent may political or moral considerations legitimately play a part in the exercise of statutory powers?