In 2006, the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, announced that the government was planning on merging over 50 small local councils into unitary authorities. However, three of the councils affected by these plans applied to the High Court for a judicial review of Ms Kelly's decision, arguing that she was acting beyond her powers by inviting the local authorities to merge.

Last month, High Court judge, Mr Justice King, ruled that each of the local authorities have an arguable case and therefore granted them permission to begin a judicial review action. The judge acknowledged that this administrative decision could have significant consequences and therefore stated that the case should be put to the top of the courts list in order that the matter should be heard as quickly as possible.