Enfield Council and Spurs drop ‘cost capping’ appeal against Whitewebbs campaigner

The move means that Sean Wilkinson’s judicial review case can go ahead without fear of being hit with a huge legal bill afterwards

Friends of Whitewebbs Park chair Sean Wilkinson
Friends of Whitewebbs Park chair Sean Wilkinson (credit James Cracknell/Enfield Dispatch)

Enfield Council and Tottenham Hotspur have dropped an appeal against a decision to cap costs in the upcoming judicial review case against the leasing of Whitewebbs Park.

The High Court had been due today (Tuesday 30th) to hear arguments from the council and Spurs against the limiting of the costs they could charge to Friends of Whitewebbs Park chair Sean Wilkinson, who is bringing the case, in the event he loses the judicial review set to take place next week.

But the decision revealed this morning to drop the cost-capping appeal means that Sean will not be forced to contribute more than £5,000 towards the legal costs incurred by the council and Spurs, as per the original ruling made in November when the judicial review application was first granted.

Sean is challenging the decision by the council to issue a 25-year lease to Tottenham Hotspur FC (THFC) for the eastern half of Whitewebbs Park, should it win planning permission to build a women’s football academy there.

He has now raised more than £20,000 to fund his own legal costs to fight the decision at the High Court during a three-day hearing scheduled for 6th-8th February.

On today’s news about the cost-capping appeal being dropped, Sean told the Dispatch: “Terms have been agreed with the other parties (Enfield Council and Tottenham Hotspur Ltd) which effectively limit costs exposure to the level ordered by the court when it granted permission for the judicial review (£5000).

“Due to this costs protection it is possible to carry on with the proceedings.”

The council has declined to comment on why it dropped the cost-capping appeal. It had previously argued that it was “right and proper” for the council to take “all reasonable steps to enable it to recover its legal costs”.

In further news welcomed by Sean, he says that the parties have now agreed that the judicial review hearing qualifies as “public interest” proceedings, “regardless of whether or not they fall within the Aarhus Convention”. 

The Aarhus Convention, agreed in 1998 by a United Nations body, grants the public rights regarding access to information, public participation and access to justice in governmental decision-making processes on environmental matters.

Should the lease go ahead, THFC want to create new training pitches in the north-eastern corner of Whitewebbs Park – amounting to 18% of the total area – close to its existing training complex in Whitewebbs Lane. But the lease also includes land to the south of this, where Tottenham Hotspur plans to restore “areas of historic parkland”.

Sean’s legal team are part of the Public Interest Law Centre, which “exists to challenge systemic injustice through legal representation, strategic litigation, research and legal education”.