High Court go-ahead for EDDC unitary challenge

PUBLISHED: 17:14 04 November 2008 | UPDATED: 11:33 17 June 2010

PLANS to abolish East Devon District Council and the other seven district authorities in Devon in favour of a gigantic single unitary council for Devon will come under the High Court spotlight on December 17.

PLANS to abolish East Devon District Council and the other seven district authorities in Devon in favour of a gigantic single unitary council for Devon will come under the High Court spotlight on December 17.

EDDC is spearheading the fight against Boundary Committee proposals that would see the whole county, apart from Plymouth and Torbay, taken over by a single Devon unitary council.

East Devon mounted a legal challenge against the proposals and has won the right to have the case listed next month.

East Devon's legal team, advised by top QC Andrew Arden, says the consultation process carried out by the committee was flawed and the financial and other implications of such a fundamental change to local government in the county have not been considered thoroughly enough.

EDDC also claims the committee, which is due to make its recommendations to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears on December 31, effectively tied its own hands by taking an overly narrow view of its remit.

The council says the committee has not properly considered whether retaining the 'status quo' would be a 'better option', for financial and other reasons.

On Friday, October 31, in a preliminary hearing at London's High Court, Mr Justice Collins said that East Devon's challenge to the committee's stance should be given priority in busy court lists and be heard as a matter of urgency before the December 31 deadline.

A similar challenge, involving Norfolk's Breckland District Council, is expected to kick off at the High Court on November 13.

EDDC Leader Councillor Sara Randall Johnson said she was awaiting the outcome of the Norfolk hearing "with interest".

* Thousands of people have sent postcards to EDDC indicating that they are against the proposed single Devon unitary council. These have been forwarded to the Boundary Committee.

* If you want to add your name to a petition on the 10 Downing Street website, please go to:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/devonstatusquo/#detail

The petition states: We, the undersigned, petition the Prime Minister to retain the current two-tier system of Local Government in Devon.

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