Council rejects request to drop High Court appeal

PUBLISHED: 10:20 04 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:25 10 June 2010

A WAR of words has broken out after the district council took exception to calls from the Exmouth Residents Association to drop a High Court appeal.

A WAR of words has broken out after the district council took exception to calls from the Exmouth Residents Association to drop a High Court appeal.

East Devon District Council chief Executive, Mark Williams accused the group of being 'relatively uninformed.'

The spat began after EDDC lost its High Court Judicial review, challenging Boundary Committee's proposals to scrap all of Devon's councils - and replacing them with a 'super' council, running all services except in Torbay and Plymouth.

Members of the ERA voted in favour of calling on EDDC to abandon any appeal because

it would be a waste of taxpayers' money 'with no benefits for the people of East Devon.'

They had enlisted the support of East Devon resident and member of the bar, Budleigh's Francis Bennion, one of Britain's foremost authorities on Statutory Interpretation, who was referred to in the judgment.

Chairman of the ERA Geoff Morris, wrote in a letter to EDDC: "Many members of our association have been concerned about the cost ...they are now further alarmed that you are intending to appeal.

"We now understand that you have little chance (following advice from Mr Bennion) of success...

"I must therefore ask you take heed of our wishes and stop the legal process...without incurring anymore expense."

He added: "The most worrying aspect of EDDC's response is that having received a letter politely asking that they abandon their plans to appeal against the judgment on the judicial review, Mark Williams and presumably Cllr Sara Randall Johnson, do not feel that they have any responsibility to explain why they are doing it."

Mr Williams replied: "I am surprised that in a matter as important as this the ERA took it upon itself to reach what I consider to be a relatively uniformed decision, not having given the council the courtesy of either being invited to the meeting or submitting a short written statement explaining the background to this matter.

"...I note the resolution... (But) in light of my criticism of the way in which the resolution was reached I would not propose to take any further action with regard to it."

He said that the ERA was 'misleading' itself if it believes there was support for a Devon unitary authority.

He added that 68 per cent of submissions to the Boundary Commission website were against the proposals.

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