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Roads to Nowhere

Sussex anti-road campaigners try crowdfunding

If your local group wants to raise funds for a particular project, a campaign, or even a legal case, you could consider Crowdfunding. Here Andrea Needham from Combe Haven Defenders tells us how it works.

"For most campaigners, funding a legal case against a new road is out of the question. It can cost thousands of pounds to bring a judicial review of a planning decision, and most groups simply don't have access to that kind of money.

In Hastings, a local resident took advantage of a relatively new Crowdfunding website, CrowdJustice, to bring a legal challenge against a new road, the Queensway Gateway road, which would run through the middle of a local wildlife site. 

The road was granted planning permission in February 2015 despite over 500 objections. Permission was subsequently quashed after Gabriel Carlyle brought a legal case that showed that the road would cause unlawful levels of air pollution. But the developer then revised the air quality figures, claiming that there were 'methodological errors' in the original application, and planning permission was granted for a second time. Gabriel's lawyer felt that air pollution issues had still not been properly addressed, and Gabriel therefore submitted a second legal challenge. But legal challenges are expensive – which is where CrowdJustice comes in.

Crowdfunding websites allow businesses or not-for-profit groups to raise a sum of money by asking a large number of people for just a small amount each. The aim of CrowdJustice, according to its founder, is to 'increase access to justice'.  Through Crowdfunding, cases which might have seemed hopeless can be funded – you just need to find enough people to each throw in a little bit. 

Cases on the website include judicial reviews of Sheffield Council's decision to cut down thousands of trees on the city's streets, of Greenwich Council's decision to grant permission for a polluting cruise ship terminal, and of the Government's decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors.

Andrea NeedhamIn order to use CrowdJustice, you need to contact the administrators and outline your case. If they think it's suitable, they'll work with you to get your case ready and give you tips on how to get people to pledge.  You need to have instructed a legal representative before the case goes live. It's all pretty straightforward. 

With huge cuts in funding in all areas of legal aid, CrowdJustice offers a way forward for campaigners who have an arguable legal case but not the money to pay for it."

- Andrea Needham, Combe Haven Defenders

See the CrowdJustice appeal relating to the Queensway Gateway road