Groups go to court over council cuts

Voluntary groups in Leicester have won the right to challenge the
council’s decision to cut funding due to budgetary

Last week, six groups won their fight for a judicial review of the
decision. About 30 voluntary organisations could face closure
because of the proposed budget cuts.

Speaking after the hearing, Voluntary Action Leicester chief
executive Kevan Liles said he was pleased that organisations that
believed themselves to be “small fry” could be victorious against a

The voluntary sector was expected to lose out by £11.6m,
barrister Michael Fordham told the High Court. He accepted it was
legally permissible for the council to cease funding and take
account of budget limits, but said council officials had failed to
provide a “cogent reason” for such a “radical” change of

At the end of a three-hour hearing, the judge gave the six groups
permission to challenge the council’s decision at a full judicial
review hearing. He said it was “arguable” that the council’s
consultation process was “not carried out fairly”.

The council’s barrister, Tim Straker QC, had argued that the
process had been fair and adequate and that the council was
entitled to make its own budgetary decisions without interference
by the courts.

Chris Stalker, head of campaigns at the National Council for
Voluntary Organisations, said: “There is concern that current
short-term budget issues appear to be threatening the longer-term
commitments of many councils to the voluntary sector.

“At the very least, adequate notice of cuts needs to be given,
which enables voluntary organisations and their partners to try and
get funding from alternative sources.”

Leicester Council declined to comment further on the case.

The judicial review is expected to take place shortly.

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