Judicial review into youth service cuts dismissed by High Court
By thepickler | Thursday, July 19, 2012, 13:29
CASHSTRAPPED North Somerset Council has had its decision to slash youth funding across the district vindicated by a High Court judge.
The application for a judicial review into the decision by the authority to slash youth service budgets from £1,142 million to just £282,736 by 2014/15 has been dismissed by the High Court.
Some youth clubs across the district have seen their opening hours slashed as they battle to raise the funds from other sources to continue services.
The judge's decision acknowledged the tough choices being faced by the council, tasked with saving £47 million over four years, in the current financial climate.
The authority has been forced to spend £65,000 in legal fees and hundreds of hours of officer time to defend the review application.
North Somerset Council spokesman, Nick Yates, said: "We are delighted that the judge has dismissed the High Court judicial review regarding youth services.
"The council is faced with having to save over £47m from our budget by 2015.
"From the outset we have said that we would look at how services could be delivered in a different way rather than simply cutting them."
The legal challenge was made by youth service user Aaron Hunt, 21, of Weston-super-Mare who said the authority failed to thoroughly evaluate the impact and long term sustainability of community run services.
He also claimed that the Conservative run authority failed to adequately consult the users of the service or make them aware of the scale and impact of the proposed changes.
He argued that the authority breached its statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010 in failing to give due regard to its obligation to consider the 'protected characteristics' of a number of service users - characteristics such as disability, gender and race.
The youth service will be replaced by a new community family service which will provide support to the 300 most vulnerable families - 900 children - across the district.
The new service will deliver targeted, intensive work with families in partnership with health services, adult care and employment services.
Mr Yates added: " This is an example where community involvement as encouraged by Government has enabled us to keep delivering a service.
"This will remain our approach as we continue to support and work with the 11 networks being set up across the district which will deliver sustainable, positive activities for our children and young people in the future."