The High Court has granted Aaron Hunt, a resident of North Somerset, permission to proceed to a full judicial review hearing of North Somerset Council’s decision to reduce funding to the area’s Youth Service.
Mr Hunt is seeking judicial review of the February 2012 decision of the Council to pass a budget that will see funding to Youth Services reduced by over 70% up to 2014/15. As a result of the reduction, the Council have confirmed that six youth groups in the area will cease to operate. Those youth groups in the area that are not closing face a period of uncertainty as the Council provides only a limited funding grant whilst local town and parish organisations and residents attempt to organise activities to try and plug the gaps left by the Council withdrawal. Further cuts will now fall in successive years.
Mr Hunt, a long time user of a youth group in Weston, is challenging the decision to drastically cut the youth services budget as he has seen a number of changes take place to a service that he holds dear. He is worried about the effect that the future cuts will have and fears for the long term future of not just his club, but others in the area too.
Mr Hunt challenges the Council’s failure to consult widely enough with service users before seeking to introduce a new budget that will have profound effects on a great many of North Somerset’s young people. Critically, the Council also failed to give due consideration to the needs of vulnerable users protected by the Equality Act 2010.
In their initial response to Mr Hunt’s claim, the Council sought to raise a series of technical points to ensure that the case did not proceed to full judicial review. Further encouraged by messages of support from local residents angry at the Council’s decision making process however, Mr Hunt’s claim has been confirmed by the High Court to have raised significant concerns that require the full consideration of the Court. A date for the full hearing has yet to be confirmed however it is expected to take place before 22nd June 2012.
Further persons who are affected by the cuts or who are able to make a financial contribution are being asked to email local campaigners on firstname.lastname@example.org in support, or to contact Public Interest Lawyers below.
Daniel Carey of Public Interest Lawyers stated:
We gave North Somerset Council plenty of opportunity to turn back, but they have pressed on regardless. We are pleased that the High Court has confirmed that the claim is properly made and needs an urgent trial to resolve. The High Court will now listen very carefully to the views of North Somerset’s youth; something the Council manifestly failed to do.
Alison Hunt's interview on BBC Points West (from 7:50)