Hiring a council park

November 20th, 2017 by James Goudie KC

In R (Friends of Finsbury Park) v Haringey LBC (2017) EWCA Civ 1831 the Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal from Supperstone J dismissing a claim for judicial review of a decision by Haringey Council to hire part of Finsbury Park for a licensed music Festival, pursuant to Section 145 of the Local Government Act 1972.

The Council held Finsbury Park under Section 10 of the Open Spaces Act 1906 or a statutory trust for use by the public for recreation. The public were its beneficial owners.  They had a statutory right to use it for recreational purposes.  The local authority owner must generally allow the public the free and unrestricted use of it.  It cannot exclude the general public from it.  All that, however, is subject to contrary legislative provisions.

The Court of Appeal, agreeing with Supperstone J’s reasons, held that Section 145 of the 1972 Act provided the Council with power to enclose part of Finsbury Park for the purposes of events such as the Festival. They were not limited to considering the application for hire only under other statutory provisions. They were able to do so notwithstanding the trust under the 1906 Act, provided that they used the 1972 Act power lawfully and not to frustrate the legislative purpose.

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