Ministers face a string of legal challenges after announcing the scrapping of 35 councils. The Times. Financial Times. Daily Telegraph

Local government minister John Healey announced yesterday that 10 new larger unitary authorities would be created by the abolition of 35 councils and merging their services to save £150m a year.

All district councils will be scrapped in five county councils - Cornwall, Durham, Shropshire, Wiltshire and Northumberland - where services will be streamlined along county lines. In addition some counties will lose some of their responsibilities to four city councils: Bedford, Chester, Ipswich and Exeter.

Communities secretary Hazel Blears is facing legal challenges from three district councils, which claim that the government has failed to consult the public. Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council, Congleton Borough Council and Harrogate Borough Council all seek a judicial review.