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BERKSHIRE COURT WIN PROVOKES DISTRICT ROW

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Berkshire CC members have ordered officers to stop joint preparations with its districts to transfer services, afte...
Berkshire CC members have ordered officers to stop joint preparations with its districts to transfer services, after the county succeeded in a court action to stall the change to unitaries.

Last Friday the High Court ruled that government plans to create six unitary councils to replace Berkshire CC were unlawful.

Berkshire's six districts have accused the county council of wasting at least £10,000 in its legal battle and a further £40,000 in campaigning to save itself.

The Berkshire districts complained that the county had supported the creation of unitaries until January this year, and said the county's judicial review of the government's decision to change a recommendation for five unitaries into six would not save it from abolition.

'In dallying for time in this way, the county council [is] just continuing to waste even more tax payers' money,' they said in a joint statement.

'Today's judicial review hearing alone could cost tax payers £10,000 or more. To date, Berkshire has spent over £50,000 on pursuing their case to save themselves from abolition and on attempting to sway public opinion in their favour.'

However, a Berkshire CC spokeswoman pointed out that the government had been ordered to pay the county's legal costs and 'if there hadn't been such a silly decision in the first place it wouldn't have cost anything'.

The government can now either appeal, accept the ruling and accept the Local Government Commission's recommendation to create five unitaries through a merger of Bracknell Forest and Windsor and Maidenhead or ask the commission to re-examine the county. On Tuesday a DoE spokesman said ministers were still considering what action to take.

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