Helen Grant MP and her campaign working group have committed to seeking a legal remedy against the closure of the High Weald Academy. They are now reaching out to the local community for donations and have set a target of £7000 to cover legal fees and associated costs. On behalf of the group, Helen said:
‘Our solicitors have advised that in order to seek a Judicial Review of the decision, and to have the matter reconsidered by Government, our group should obtain an opinion on the merits of the case from a specialist barrister. The Legal Aid Agency turned down an application for the funding of this pre-action stage, suggesting that 'alternative funding' should be considered, mindful that there will be a a significant number of pupils with the same interests'
‘At our working group meeting last Friday (29th October), by a large majority we committed to seeking the £7,000 needed to take this to the next stage. We are therefore reaching out to individuals, businesses and any other supportive sources for donations’.
‘An account has been set up at GoFundMe here: https://gofund.me/901a0d49. All donations will be welcome, no matter how large or small. There are strict limitations on deadlines for Judicial Review cases and therefore time is very much of the essence.'
On September 27th the Government announced that the High Weald Academy in Cranbrook is to close in part at Christmas, and in full at the end of this academic year in 2022. The decision has created a huge local backlash amidst deep concern within the local community.
The loss of the only non-selective secondary school for miles around will seriously affect children and families in the Weald of Kent. The wider knock-on effect on the town of Cranbrook and the outlying rural villages will also be significant; impacting upon local businesses, social clubs, sports teams and more.
Shortly after the closure announcement at the end of September local MP Helen Grant held a public meeting in Cranbrook. This brought together a group of 16 local stakeholders, as a volunteer working team, to try and reverse this decision and implement a sustainable proposition to keep the school open.
In the course of their investigations a number of issues have come to light that suggest the decision process did not follow the proper procedure, and that potentially viable alternatives (to closure) have not been given due consideration. This has led to calls for a legal review of the decision while a sustainable plan for the school is being drawn up by the working group.