Mr Justice Underhill ruled against that the claim by Congleton and Shrewsbury & Atcham BCs - both of which face abolition - that Ms Blears had acted unlawfully by starting the unitary process before the Local Government & Public Involvement in Health Bill becomes law.
The councils also argued that she had ignored the government’s criteria that unitary proposals should have public support.
But he allowed them to take the matter to the Court of Appeal, saying: “I am not so confident that I am right that I could conscientiously say there was no reasonable prospect of success on appeal.”
'Judge is wrong'
Congleton leader Roland Domleo (Con) said: “We believe that the judge is wrong to have dismissed the fact that [Ms Blears] has made these decisions despite strong evidence showing that the proposals have not met her own criteria, in particular, concerning public support.
“There is no evidence to suggest that the public want a costly, disruptive and unnecessary restructure of their public services”.
Other councils may back appeal
Other councils that have threatened judicial reviews are considering their position, and may back Congleton rather than pursue their own cases.
But Shropshire CC leader Malcolm Pate (Con) said the judgment “entirely vindicates the way in which we carefully followed the process set out by the government”.