The county council was threatened with legal action days before it backtracked on controversial plans to close children’s centres across Buckinghamshire.

In March Bucks County Council (BCC) announced plans to replace the 35 children’s centres across the county had been put on hold to allow more time for public consultation.

At the time county chiefs failed to divulge any more information regarding the reasons behind the U-turn – however this week solicitors confirmed a legal letter had been issued BCC before the shock decision was made.

Leigh Day solicitor, Rowan Smith said the letter, issued on behalf of a resident, challenged BCC’s decision to implement its early help model– which aims to streamline children’s services.

He added that there was “no doubt” the council’s change-of-heart was down to the threat of legal action as well as the long-running campaign.

Mr Smith said: “We issued the legal letter on behalf of a local resident to challenge the decision by BCC to introduce an early help model and to re-do a new public consultation that was clear and transparent as to what the outcome would be regarding potential closures.

“This is a very important issue which affects many children and families in Bucks. There is no doubt that the council’s U-turn was the direct result of the legal letter and continued campaigning efforts.”

Solicitors also confirmed the legal action will not be pursued following the council’s decision to re-launch the consultation process.

Lead campaigner, Alka Dass, said she is “extremely happy” that the centres have remained open – and urged the council to request funding from central Government to plough into the services.

She said: “We have expressed our views before, we want to keep the centres open and we are more than happy to support and work with the council so that more people use – but we will need additional funding so that the centres run to their full capabilities.

“I am going to be meeting with county council soon and hope we can find a way to work together to ensure the best outcome is reached for the parents and children of Bucks, as well as the staff who work in the centres.

“We will eagerly await the council’s new decision and hope that BCC will make the right decision.”

Deputy cabinet member for children’s services at BCC, Jean Teesdale, said the “potential for legal challenge” was considered when the council backtracked on its early help plans.

She said: “The potential for legal challenge was one of the factors we considered when we made the decision to re-consult on the review of the early help service on March 29, 2018.

“This was considered alongside the strength of feeling amongst residents and volunteer groups about the changes we were proposing, as well as recognising that residents wanted more specific proposals about how the new service would work.”

The revelation is the latest twist in the children’s centre saga – after the council announced plans to replace the centres with nine “hubs” last year.

The move was met with anger from families and councillors alike, and campaigners have fought tirelessly to save the centres for months.