LEWISHAM Council has agreed to legally challenge the downgrade of Lewisham Hospital services at the High Court.

Following proposals by the South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) administrator, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced earlier this month that the hospital would see its A&E and maternity services downgraded.

The council had challenged him to back down, claiming the administrator had no power to make a decision over Lewisham, which is aprt of a completely different health trust.

But, in a letter received last week, Mr Hunt maintained he was within his rights to make the decision.

At a full council meeting last night, councillors from all parties unanimously backed pursuing a legal challenge, which is expected to cost around £200,000.

It means the head of law is now authorised to pursue judicial review proceedings.

Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock said: "We're deadly serious about this. This is not a gesture, it's not grandstanding."

He said: "This is a fight which we have to win and it's a fight we believe we can win."

The council has set up a legal challenge fund. Visit the website to donate.