Campaigners fighting to overturn plans to close more than half of Buckinghamshire's children's centres today won the first round in their battle.

The county council announced plans earlier this year to close 19 of its 35 centres and restructure the remaining sites into "family centres".

But parents who rely on the services say the decision was made unlawfully, because the community was not properly consulted.

And they say disadvantaged and low-income households will be hit hardest, as they will find it harder to travel in order to use services.

The fight to overturn the plans is being led by a Bucks parent, whose name has been kept anonymous to protect her family.

Today, her lawyers took the fight to the High Court in London, where a senior judge said the legal challenge is "arguable".

Mr Justice Supperstone granted permission for a full judicial review of the council's decision - likely to take place next month.

Representing the parent, barrister Stephen Broach argued that the council's consultation process was "unlawful".

The community were consulted on three possible futures for children's services in the county, but maintaining the status quo was "ruled out".

"It is a rudimentary principle that a decision-maker must consult at a time when the proposals are still at a formative stage," he told the judge.

"In other words, the final decision to be taken cannot be a fait accompli. Consultees must to able to influence it.

"In this case, the council’s own evidence shows that the decision to restructure the provision of children’s centres had been taken prior to the consultation.

"Maintaining the current level of provision had already been ‘ruled out’ without the benefit of any prior consultation.

"It follows that the decision to adopt one of the options in the consultation paper was a fait accompli.

"It further follows that no matter what consultees said in response to the consultation, the council had closed its mind to maintaining the status quo."

Lawyers for the county council argued that there was nothing wrong in the way that the community was consulted on the proposed changes.

It was not required "as a matter of law" to consult on the possibility of maintaining services in their current form, they claimed.

They also said the potential impact on children and families of the proposed changes had been carefully considered.

But Mr Broach said: "Fairness required the council to consult on other options, notably the option of maintaining the current level of services provided by existing children’s centres through making savings in other areas or exceeding its budget."

Ruling, Mr Justice Supperstone said the legal challenge was "arguable" and opened the way for a full judicial review hearing next month.