High Court bid to challenge proposal

PUBLISHED: 15:05 03 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:45 10 June 2010

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3: A LEGAL challenge against scrapping the district council and replacing it with a 'super council' has been mounted. Council lawyers have lodged the judicial review that would be heard in the High Court, potentially costing council tax-payers a five-figure

A LEGAL challenge against scrapping the district council and replacing it with a 'super council' has been mounted.Council lawyers have lodged the judicial review that would be heard in the High Court, potentially costing council tax-payers a five-figure sum.The Boundary Committee finished consulting on draft proposals to scrap all eight of Devon's district councils and create a gigantic single authority - excluding Plymouth and Torbay - at the end of last week.EDDC's legal team has now written to Archie Gall, director of the Boundary Committee, and to Hazel Blears, Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government.They will argue that a unitary proposal is not legal because it does not address affordability - one of the five criteria that scuppered Exeter's failed bid for self-determination last year - and their refusal to consider a 'two-tier' option.A council spokesman confirmed: "We have lodged our application for judicial review of the Secretary of State and the Boundary Committee, at the High Court in London. "We are awaiting the outcome of the first stage - our application for leave to proceed with the case. We have also made an application for the case to be heard urgently."Both Exmouth Town Council and Honiton Town Council voted against the proposals last week and back the challenge - while Budleigh Salterton Town Council and Devon County Council back the unitary option.EDDC leader Councillor Sara Randall Johnson said: "It's one thing to have a new system of local government foisted on us if all the experts feel it is better in every way than the current arrangement. "But we believe the proposal and the poorly-detailed evidence supporting it are fundamentally flawed."The idea of a single council running Devon, an area larger than Greater London and chunks of its neighbouring counties, seems to us absurd. "Bigger does not mean more efficient - it means more remote and less democratic. "The proposed judicial review is not a decision we have taken lightly. "We know that it can be an expensive exercise, but we have to use all means at our disposal to stop this ridiculous idea being adopted and in the long run that will ensure better value services for everyone in East Devon.

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