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SOMERSET GRANTED LEAVE TO CHALLENGE RESTRUCTURE

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Somerset County Council was today given the go ahead by the High Court to mount a full judicial review of Local Gov...
Somerset County Council was today given the go ahead by the High Court to mount a full judicial review of Local Government Commission recommendations that it be abolished along with four of the county's district councils and one borough council.

Mr Justice Laws told the High Court there was 'clearly an argument' that the commission had recommended the replacement of the present two tier system with three independent 'unitary' authorities 'without having regard to the representations' of the county council.

The court heard the commission has recommended to Environment Secretary John Gummer that the county, Taunton Deane BC, and the districts of West Somerset, South Somerset, Sedgemoor and Mendip, be abolished.

In their place the commission recommends three independent unitary authorities - West Somerset, Mid Somerset and South Somerset.

But today Somerset's barrister, Mr Michael Supperstone QC, told the court that the commission had 'ignored the crucial factor that the substantial majority of people want a county wide authority.'

Mr Supperstone said that in its final recommendations to the secretary of state in December last year the commission had ignored the county council's view that either the two tier system should remain or the county should be managed by one all powerful authority.

'This is a matter of great public importance and we are seeking a declaration that the commission will not rule out any of our own recommendations,' Mr Supperstone said.

Somerset was given leave to seek judicial review of the Local Government Boundary Commission's recommendations. Similar cases brought by Cleveland, Derbyshire and Lancashire CCs are still pending.

Mr Justice Laws ordered that the full judicial review hearing should come on as soon as possible. Neither the commission nor the DoE were represented at today's hearing.

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