Following the announcement that the British Humanist Association and the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign are planning to mount a legal challenge against Richmond Council over proposals to establish a new Voluntary Aided Catholic primary and secondary school, the following statements have been issued by the Diocese of Westminster and Richmond Council.
The Diocese of Westminster said:
The Diocese of Westminster believe that Richmond Council have acted entirely properly in respect of proposals for the establishment of new Voluntary Aided Catholic primary and secondary schools in the borough.
'The proposed court case being brought by RISC and the British Humanist Association, a national organisation that campaigns against the existence of all schools with a religious character, seeks to use procedural arguments to prevent an entirely legitimate proposal to increase the educational choices available for parents and children in Richmond.'
'The proposed new Catholic schools would add greater diversity of choice by enabling those seeking a Catholic education for their children to benefit from a continuum of Catholic education from ages 4 to 18.'
'The proposed new schools are also likely to bring additional benefits by releasing places at other local schools which are currently being taken up by those who would prefer a Catholic education.'
A Richmond Council spokesperson said:
“In December, the Secretary of State gave permission to the Diocese of Westminster to issue statutory proposals for the establishment of a voluntary-aided secondary school and a voluntary-aided primary school. Following the requisite ‘informal’ consultation, the Diocese issued the formal, statutory proposals on 2nd March and responses can still be made to the proposals by Friday 13th April. The Council’s Cabinet, in its role as ‘local decision-maker’, is due to consider the proposals and the responses to the proposals at its meeting on 24th May.'
“Separately, the Council undertook an eight-week consultation, from 20th January to 16th March, with local residents on the possible use of a site in Twickenham for the establishment of the proposed schools. The Council’s Cabinet is due to consider the responses to those proposals, before (and conditional upon) the decisions it will take, at its meeting on 24th May, as to whether the Diocese’s proposals should be approved.'
“The Council has not yet taken decisions in respect of the Diocese’s proposal, or in respect of the use of the site in Twickenham and therefore, any judicial review challenge would be premature. “