Campaign win: Judicial review supports the Keyhole Bridge group

This bridge is now open to rat running motor traffic making it much less safe for people cycling and walking
Pedestrians waiting to pass under keyhole bridge after it reopened to traffic
Pedestrians waiting to pass under keyhole bridge after it reopened to traffic

Campaign win: Judicial review supports the Keyhole Bridge group

The Keyhole Bridge Group successfully campaigned for a judicial review after council reopened a bridge in Poole to rat running motor vehicle traffic, making it more dangerous for people cycling and walking. On 18 November a court decision was made in the group’s favour
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council closed Keyhole Bridge in Poole in August 2020 under an experimental traffic order. The closure made the bridge safe for cyclists and pedestrians and reduced rat running through Poole Park by hundreds of vehicles an hour.
  • The council closed its promised consultation early and reopened the bridge to motor traffic in March 2021.
  • Cycling UK is taking similar action against West Sussex county council

Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, has welcomed the outcome of a judicial review into the decision by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) council to reopen a narrow underpass in Poole to rat running motor vehicles. The bridge was previously closed to motor traffic making it safer for people cycling, walking and using the park during the pandemic.

The court action was brought by a group of local campaigners, the Keyhole Bridge Group, after the Keyhole Bridge underpass was reopened to traffic in March 2021. When the closure was implemented in August 2020, BCP council announced that the consultation would run until 21 February 2021; however this was ended almost a month early, on 22 January.

Following the hearing on 6 October, Mrs Justice Lang DBE upheld the challenge on the grounds that it was “a breach of procedural legitimate expectation”, leading the judge to conclude, “the procedure which was adopted [by the council] was significantly less favourable to the public, in particular to supporters of the closure of Keyhole Bridge.”

Mrs Justice Lang DBE also stated there was “a failure to take into account material considerations” with the council ignoring relevant submissions after prematurely closing the consultation.

BCP were instructed to pay a £20k cost order towards the claimants' legal costs, and must now undertake a full six-week consultation from February 2022.

Cycling UK welcomes the decision, as it waits for the conclusion of its own similar legal challenge. The charity is seeking a judicial review over West Sussex county council’s decision to remove a popular cycle lane in Shoreham in November 2020 after it had been installed for two months.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, commented: “Too many councils over recent months have almost made their own rules up when determining the future of their government funded cycling and walking schemes. Justice Lang’s decision should be a salutary warning to them, and that they must follow proper process.

“However, it is disappointing that it is down to local volunteers and campaign groups to hold councils to account when government guidance on promoting active travel schemes is clear.”

A spokesperson for Keyhole Bridge Group said:

“We are delighted with this decision. It is notoriously difficult to win a judicial review but the Council’s decision to renege on its promise to run a full consultation was so clearly unlawful we were confident we would succeed. The Council must have understood this. 

We’ve always been willing to negotiate a solution and this ruling makes it clear the Council was reckless with council tax funds in not accepting our offer and pressing on with the case

Keyhole Bridge Group spokesperson

“We’ve always been willing to negotiate a solution and this ruling makes it clear the Council was reckless with council tax funds in not accepting our offer and pressing on with the case.”

Cycling UK’s application to bring a judicial review into West Sussex council’s removal of the cycle lane on Upper Shoreham Road was granted after the charity successfully appealed against an earlier High Court decision refusing it. Cycling UK is seeking donations to its Cyclists’ Defence Fund, to help meet the costs of this and other legal action to protect the interests of cyclists across the UK. Donations can be made at https://cyclinguk.org/cdf.

Another legal challenge, brought by campaigners in London against Kensington & Chelsea council’s decision to remove a cycle lane on High Street Kensington, was recently granted a full hearing.

Contact information 

For more information, please contact the national Cycling UK press office. Due to the restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, currently the main press office number (01483 238 315) is not being monitored. If you would like to speak to a member of the press office during working hours (0900 - 1700) please email publicity@cyclinguk.org. Out of hours, call 07786 320 713.

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, imagines a world where the streets are free of congestion and the air is clean to breathe, where parents encourage their children to cycle to school and everyone shares the exhilaration of being in the saddle. For more than 140 years, we’ve been making our streets safer, opening up new traffic free routes and inspiring more people to cycle more often. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. The Keyhole Bridge Group successfully raised more than £12,500 to bring the judicial review against BCP council. For more information see the groups Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KeyholeBridgeGroup
  3. For more information in Cycling UK’s action against West Sussex county council, see www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/west-sussex-county-council-go-court-over-cycle-lane-removal
  4. The judge's decision is available online at: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2021/3082.html 

More information 

Find out how the Cyclists' Defence Fund supports cyclists and campaigners. 

Donate to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund 

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