Magazine article Public Finance

Legal Challenge over Unitaries Comes under Fire

Magazine article Public Finance

Legal Challenge over Unitaries Comes under Fire

Article excerpt

The Department for Communities and Local Government this week accused three councils of wasting taxpayers' money over a legal challenge against Ruth Kelly's plans for more unitary authorities.

DCLG officials reacted with dismay to a High Court decision on June 18 that will allow three authorities to proceed with a legal challenge against the minister's plans to reduce the number of two-tier authorities in England.

Kelly's Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, currently working its way through Parliament, proposes at least eight new unitary authorities. Sixteen unitary bids have been shortlisted by the DCLG, leaving the future of 80 councils under consideration.

Kelly wants to expand unitaries to reduce costs to taxpayers and to make councils more effective.

But three authorities that could be abolished following county council bids for unitary status - Harrogate Borough Council in North Yorkshire, Congleton Borough Council in Cheshire and Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council in Shropshire - appealed to the High Court. …

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