Council takes unitary fight to Appeal Court

PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:15 17 June 2010

EAST Devon District Council s Executive Board last night (Wednesday) agreed to sanction an appeal against a High Court judgement dealing with the Council s challenge to the Boundary Committee, which may shortly recommend massive changes to local governme

EAST Devon District Council's Executive Board last night (Wednesday) agreed to sanction an appeal against a High Court judgement dealing with the Council's challenge to the Boundary Committee, which may shortly recommend massive changes to local government in Devon.

The Local Government Review could recommend the scrapping of all eight district councils in Devon and the County Council, to be replaced by a giant unitary authority responsible for delivering all council services across Devon, with the exception of Torbay and Plymouth.

Yesterday's meeting of EDDC's top councillors voted for the appeal after receiving a report from the Chief Executive on the outcome of the Judicial Review hearing at the High Court shortly before Christmas.

When the decision of Mr Justice Cranston was announced last week, EDDC's Leader, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, said she was "mystified" by the judgement, which was critical of the Boundary Committee on a number of fronts, but stopped short of outright censure.

She said on Thursday morning: "We feel it is only right and proper that we should proceed to the Court of Appeal against the High Court decision, because of the importance of this issue to public interest and democracy.

"Reading between the lines of the judgement, it is clear that the Judge has some serious reservations about the way the Boundary Committee has carried out the tasks it was set by the Secretary of State.

"If local government in Devon is to be tinkered with, we want to be sure that the process is both transparent and foolproof. At the moment, we are not confident on either count.

"Allowing our challenge to be heard by three Appeal Court Judges will ensure that the interests of Devon's residents and of democracy will have been seen to be served".

Breckland District Council in Norfolk is mounting a similar appeal against a High Court Judgement handed down in December, concerning a local government review in East Anglia. Both cases are expected to be fast-tracked for hearing by the Appeal Court in February.


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