Mum ‘disgusted’ over ‘unlawful council cuts

Aaron Hunt with his mum Alison Jenkins

Aaron Hunt with his mum Alison Jenkins - Credit: Archant

A MOTHER says she is ‘disgusted’ North Somerset Council will not have to reinstate the youth services it unlawfully cut.

Aaron Hunt with his mum Alison Jenkins

Aaron Hunt with his mum Alison Jenkins - Credit: Archant

The council ‘failed to meet legal obligations’ when it slashed funding for youth services, according to a ruling by the Court of Appeal.

But a panel of the country’s top judges decided it is too late to force the council to do a u-turn, leaving the mother of the lead campaigner angry.

The court ruled the authority acted unlawfully when it slashed funding for youth services by 72 per cent in February last year.

In a 30-page document released last week, the court sided with 22-year-old Aaron Hunt, a youth service user from Banwell, who brought the legal challenge.

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Mr Hunt, who has learning difficulties and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asked three senior judges to overrule the authority’s decision to scale down or axe services for young people, and challenged the decision on the basis that the council had failed to properly consult affected people.

Aaron attended a youth club on the Bournville estate which has been moved and may be forced to close due to the cuts.

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His mother, Alison Jenkins, said: “People like Aaron need somewhere they can have fun and get rid of their energy.

“They play sports, teach cooking and do their Duke of Edinburgh award there. He just loved it.”

North Somerset’s drastic cuts came as leaders attempted to find £92million of savings before 2018.

But the authority failed to carry out its duty to promote equality or consult the public, the court ruled.

Cianan Good, whose firm Public Interest Lawyers represented Mr Hunt, said: “Although the court has ultimately determined it will not require the council to revisit that decision, this does not detract from the fact that the council’s processes have found to be wanting.

“It is hoped the council will now give appropriate consideration to the criticisms made of it and any future decisions taken will be sure to respect the views of those within North Somerset as well as the law.”

Although the council was labelled ‘unlawful’, it faces no legal sanctions.

Mrs Jenkins lives with her son in Westfield Road and although she is proud of his moral victory, she feels the council should be made to rethink its actions.

She said: “Aaron has waited long enough for something to happen, but because it was so long, they can’t do anything about it – it’s disgusting.

“I am over the moon he won the case but now I think they should do something.

“He told me ‘that’s brilliant mum’, but when I told him they don’t have to do anything his face just dropped.

“Aaron didn’t just do it for him, he did it for all disabled children. I’m just disgusted, we’ve been fighting all this way and it has come to this.”

A council spokesman said: “We are pleased the Court of Appeal does not require us to revisit our original decision to provide services for young people in a different and more positive way.

“However we will consider the judgement and ensure our approach to equalities impacts and consultations is robust and appropriate when making decisions about future service provision.

“We do believe the services delivered locally for young people, as a result of the changes, are an improvement on previous arrangements.”

Pictured Aaron Hunt with his mum Alison Jenkins.

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