Ex-Doncaster mayor wins legal fight on libraries

Peter Davies
Peter Davies
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CONTROVERSIAL former mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, yesterday won a legal fight over library funding - which a leading judge said raised “important issues” about local authority power structures.

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

Carol Buck look legal action, claiming that Mr Davies had acted unlawfully by refusing to implement a “budget amendment” on library funding that had been agreed by councillors.

A High Court judge had ruled against Ms Buck and three appeal judges yesterday also rejected her claim.

But 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 had been important.

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

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

The appeal court was told that in March 2012 Doncaster Council had passed an amendment to create a “contingency budget” to “provide support” for 14 community libraries and allocated around £380,000.

But Mr Davies had said he would not spend the money on the libraries “as per the amendment”.

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

But appeal judges disagreed and dismissed her claim.

Lord Dyson, who sat with Lord Justice McCombe and Lady Justice Gloster at the appeal court, said: “The full council cannot require the mayor to expend money in a particular way.”