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Christchurch faces £100k bill as reorganisation appeal refused

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Christchurch BC’s application to appeal a High Court ruling on local government reorganisation in Dorset has been refused, leaving the council with a £100,000 bill.

The council had claimed that previous housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid had unlawfully allowed plans to turn Dorset’s nine councils into two new unitary councils.

Judge Sir Ross Cranston refused leave to appeal his decision, made Tuesday, and awarded £50,000 costs against the council - of which £35,000 will go to the government - while the council’s own legal costs also amounted to £50,000.

LGC reported in January how the council had set aside £15,000 in legal costs but this was bumped up to £200,000 during a confidential session at a meeting of full council in April.

Christchurch leader David Flagg (Con) defended the court costs as they were covered by the amount the council had set aside.

He said: “Whilst we are disappointed with the decision of the judge to refuse leave to appeal the council has fought to represent the wishes of our residents throughout this process. The result of our local poll showed that 84% of residents who took part did not support local government reorganisation and it was important we pursued every avenue possible to prevent the abolition of the council.”

Cllr Flagg said the council would now “consider the advice of counsel and officers” before deciding how to proceed.

Christchurch initially launched a bid for a judicial review in May after Cllr Flagg said in January the council wanted to protect its sovereignty. A government lawyer subsequently described the legal challenge as “unacceptable” and “an absurd intention to impute Parliament”.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • In Shirley Porter's day Councillors could be individually surcharged if their actions recklessly wasted taxpayers money, assuming 30 Councillors voted for this a bill of £3,000 each would just about cover the wasted public money post the legal advice that this was unlikely to go anywhere. I assume they could hand back their allowances to help towards it. The problem is there is no effective sanction for Councillors wasting other peoples money.

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