Former Doncaster mayor wins legal fight

Peter Davies
Peter Davies
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A controversial former Doncaster mayor has won a legal fight over library funding – which a leading judge said raised ‘important issues’.

Peter Davies, a member of the English Democrat party when he was elected in 2009, came under fire from a disabled woman after deciding not to spend nearly £400,000 on libraries.

Carol Bucktook legal action, claiming Mr Davies had acted unlawfully by refusing to implement a ‘budget amendment’ on library funding that had been agreed by councillors.

A hearing last year was told Mr Davies and his executive cabinet decided in November 2011 to close two libraries, with 12 more to be run entirely by volunteers.

The full council voted on an amendment to allocate some of the council’s budget to put paid staff into the affected libraries – 43 voted in support of the amendment, with six councillors voting against and three abstaining.

But Mr Davies said he was not going to change the budget despite the outcome of the vote.

A High Court judge this week ruled against Ms Buck along with three appeal court judges who rejected her claim.

One appeal judge – Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, and the second most senior judge in England and Wales – said Ms Buck’s case was important.

“Ms Buck claims a declaration that the mayor has acted unlawfully in refusing to implement the budget amendment determined by the full council,” he said.

“The claim raises important issues as to the division of powers between a directly elected executive and the full council of a local authority.”

Ms Buck said once the money had been allocated by the full council, the mayor was ‘obliged’ to spend it for “the purposes mentioned in the amendment”.

But the judges Lord Dyson, Lord Justice McCombe and Lady Justice Gloster disagreed and dismissed her claim saying: “The full council cannot require the mayor to expend money in a particular way.”