David Wooodd explains the latest developments
Polo Times has been informed of the latest update from the HPA regarding the ongoing visa situation:
“As you should know, in October 2016 the Home Office put forward proposals for new requirements for a sponsor licence and migrant endorsements and, at the same time, unilaterally suspended the HPA’s power to issue any endorsements for the 2017 season pending agreement to a set of very different new proposals. The HPA believed the proposals to be detrimental to the sport and failed to take account of various aspects and realities. Accordingly, with the approval of the Home Office, the HPA made formal representations backed up by evidence of the detrimental effect the proposals would have on the sport. Throughout, the HPA has emphasised to the Home Office how time-critical the issue was for our members and for the success of the 2017 season. The Home Office failed to provide any timeframe within which they were going to issue those criteria or to lift the suspension and, therefore, the HPA had no option but to initiate legal proceedings in the form of a Judicial Review.
“As part of the application for permission to seek Judicial Review, HPA asked for an urgent hearing on the ability to issue endorsements under Tier 5. This hearing was listed for 25 January 2017. However, late on 19 January 2017, the Home Office unexpectedly provided revised criteria for sponsor licences and endorsement of sponsorships by the HPA and stated that it would allow the HPA to endorse, but only for those eligible under the new criteria. This meant that the hearing for interim relief (seeking removal of the prior suspension) on Wednesday could not take place as the Home Office had lifted that suspension and provided new criteria.
“We have been considering the detail and wording of the new criteria with the Home Office. The new criteria did not take account of the realities of how polo is played in the UK, and the time frame for a change for 2017 remains unreasonable. The criteria did not include any avenue for players or grooms in polo below 15 goal and in their letter lifting the ban the Home Office acknowledges very clearly that the criteria will be damaging to low goal polo as a whole and its development.
Further discussions have been held with the Home Office this week, and yesterday, (Wednesday). We are waiting for confirmation of the outcome of those discussions and any decision on future proceedings for the Judicial Review will be taken following further legal advice. We will do our best to keep you informed of that outcome as soon as we can” David Woodd, Chief Executive
Photohraph: The latest update from the HPA.