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Legal challenge to West Lancashire council cuts

Ground-breaking action would challenge whole cuts process rather than just the effect on an individual service.

A new legal front in the battle against cuts has opened in West Lancashire, where the borough council has been issued with a "letter before claim" by legal firm Irwin Mitchell over cuts announced last October. The council has until this Friday 6 January to confirm that it is quashing its current plans for cuts, or face the commencement of Judicial Review proceedings.

The case is being brought on the basis that the council "failed to carry out a proper consultation in reaching its decision to implement the proposals to reduce expenditure identified in their Major Services Review", and because "the consultation material provided by the local authority carried insufficient detail to allow the public to make an informed view on the proposals".

A successful Judicial Review would force the council to start its consultation process again. While it might not stop the cuts in the longer term, it would force the council to consult properly and honestly with residents.

What makes this case distinctive, and potentially ground-breaking, is that the whole cuts process is being challenged, as opposed to individual service cuts such as library closures, or services which have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable people, such as cuts to social care.

To take the case forward to Judicial Review, a "fighting fund" has been set up to contribute to legal costs. The fund will be taken into account as and when the courts consider whether the case should proceed to full Judicial Review.

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