Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Legal Challenge to Lawfulness of Cuts to Youth Services in North Somerset to be Heard this Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A claim brought by Aaron Hunt, a resident of Banwell, Weston-Super-Mare, which challenges the lawfulness of North Somerset Council’s decision to cut funding to its youth centres is to be heard in the High Court sitting in Cardiff on 13 June 2012. If the claim is successful, North Somerset Council may be forced to reconsider the cuts it has made.

The Claimant, represented by Public Interest Lawyers, lodged his claim on 12 April 2012.  He argues that the decision to impose cuts of over 70% to the budget of Youth Services in North Somerset was arrived at without consulting adequately with service users. Moreover, it is argued that the Council did not give due consideration to the needs of vulnerable users protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Hunt suffers from learning difficulties and relied upon his local youth club for support and friendship. The reconfiguration of his club left Mr Hunt feeling confused and isolated and the uncertainty about the club’s long term sustainability has been the source of considerable upset. In his evidence to the Court, Mr Hunt described his concerns that the ‘happy family’ he is a part of might be ‘broken up’.

The Council’s decision has already had profound effects across the whole of North Somerset with six youth groups already confirmed as having closed or being due to close. Surviving youth groups face a period of uncertainty as the Council provides only a limited funding grant. Local town and parish organisations and residents are desperately attempting to organise activities to try and plug the gaps left by the Council’s decision.

Permission was granted for the case to proceed to full judicial review by Mr Justice Wyn Williams on 14 May 2012. Mr Justice Wyn Williams abridged the usual timetable for judicial review hearings and the case was transferred to the Administrative Court in Cardiff to facilitate an expedited hearing of the crucial matters raised by the claim. 

The claim seeks a declaration that the decision of North Somerset Council to reduce funding to Youth Services was unlawful. An order overturning the decision is also sought.
For further information, contact:
Public Interest Lawyers - Phil Shiner and Cianan Good

Telephone: 0121 515 5069

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