Legal challenge to Croydon sale withdrawn

Patrick Steel, 11.11.2013
Campaigners cite lack of funds
legal challenge to Croydon Council’s decision to sell 24 items from its Riesco collection has been withdrawn due to lack of funds.

Campaigners submitted papers to the High Court last Thursday, calling for a judicial review of the Riesco sale, which is due to take place on 27 November, but needed to raise £20,000 to meet legal fees.

Charlotte Davies, a leader of the South Croydon Community Association, and the signatory of the judicial review application, said: “In Croydon many people are intimidated by publicly standing up to the Council. I agreed to front the action so that a group could come together that transcended politics, ethnicity, and age without any fear of intimidation.

“I still needed the funds upfront to be sure that I would not lose my home. We were £3,500 short on Friday, we just could not go on.

“It was like edging out across the ice to face a polar bear. The bear (Croydon Council) had far more resources and was better equipped for survival. They could boast to a local journalist last week that I would be personally bankrupted and could not possibly win.

“They were right, the balance of power and risks is so heavily weighted against private individuals that you cannot realistically take on an authority even though you know the case is the right thing to do unless you have the funds up front.” 

A spokesman for Croydon Council said: “We are pleased that the sale of the Riesco items can go ahead as planned.

“The decision to proceed with the sale was taken in exceptional circumstances to provide investment for the future benefit of culture in Croydon.”

The Museums Association announced today that it would bar Croydon Council from future membership if it went ahead with the sale.


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Judith Martin
Project Organiser, Industrial Buildings Preservation Trust
17.11.2013, 16:36
Sadly Anonymous is right - Croydon won't loose any sleep.
Boasting about bankrupting the Community Association leader is shameful.
There does need to be legislation but with a government keen to sell all the family silver it can get its hands on, it's hard to see who will pass it.
Meanwhile, what does the LGA say about such undemocratic behaviour? Is there no sanction through another route?
13.11.2013, 13:48
I dont think Croydon council will loose too much sleep from not being allowed to join the MA. We need legislation. I do feel for the staff that are caught up in all of this and are trying to do their jobs despite of the LA. I think it needed much wider/higher profile and stance from the sector.