Special meeting of Cumbria County Council votes against Judicial Review on Local Government Reform

 A special meeting of Cumbria County Council took place this morning (Wednesday 25th August 2021 at 10am) at Carlisle racecourse, at the request of five members of the Conservative group, of whom I was one.

This was to consider the following motion which was be proposed by Dr Stephen Haraldsen:

“This council believes that launching a legal challenge against the proposed Local Government Reform in Cumbria will be a waste of public money and time and that the council should instead focus on serving local residents by working constructively with all partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new unitary authorities.”

The motion was PASSED by 30 votes to 18 with eight abstentions. 

Essentially Conservative councillors voted for the motion, the Labour group voted against, and the Lib/Dems abstained (depspite the fact that the  first half of the motion was an almost exact quote from Lib/Dem MP Tim Farron and the second half was an almost exact quote from the Lib/Dem leader on the county council, Cllr Thornton.)

Early press coverage has paid more attention than was merited to some far from validated figures bandied around about the cost of the meeting and about the potential cost of a judicial review. 

In my opinion the potential legal costs if a judicial review was pursued to a full hearing and costs were awarded against the council the cost to the taxpayer could easily be in six figures which is two orders of magnitude more than the cost of today's meeting - but the most important cost of such a judicial review would be the uncertainty and delay if would cause, the consequent impact on morale, and the officer and member time which would be taken away from setting up the new councils and from dealing with the actual work of the council on issues like sorting out the A595, school transport, and protecting people from COVID-19.


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