FENLAND AND WEST NORFOLK: New 'super council' could be centred on Kings Lynn

PART of Fenland could move into a new Kings Lynn based super council that could deliver all statutory services now run by both the local borough council and Norfolk County Council. The Borough Council of King s Lynn & West Norfolk has today submitted to

PART of Fenland could move into a new Kings Lynn based 'super council' that could deliver all statutory services now run by both the local borough council and Norfolk County Council.

The Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk has today submitted to the Boundary Committee its revised concept for local government in Norfolk based on what it call "the economic reality of the area."

Council Leader, Nick Daubney, explained: "It is our view that Norfolk will be best served by two unitary authorities based around recognised economic hubs - one in King's Lynn and one in Norwich. We have refined our proposals around that premise, taking into account the distinct differences between a large, rural and sparsely populated west Norfolk and a smaller, more densely populated east Norfolk.

Under the proposals being put forward by the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, a city region would be created in the east of the County, based around Norwich - making Norwich the first city region controlled by a single local authority, enabling it to fulfil its growth agenda and speed up decisions that affect its residents. Norwich would become a regional powerhouse of national importance.

Setting up a second authority around the economic sub-region of King's Lynn would enable west Norfolk to build on the momentum currently being experienced in terms of major inward investment and population growth. King's Lynn has long been recognised as a town that fulfils a far greater role than towns of a similar size, due to its equidistance from the major cities of Cambridge, Peterborough and Norwich.

Its influence spreads beyond the existing borough boundaries towards the east of the county and westwards towards Fenland, South Lincolnshire and North Cambridgeshire.

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"We believe that the concept we are putting forward will allow both of the new authorities to tackle the issues local to their area more effectively as they will be in control of their own destiny," Cllr Daubney added.

The Borough Council has reviewed recent decisions by the Boundary Committee and concluded, as has Norfolk County Council, that it is unlikely that the Secretary of State would wish to see more than two new unitary authorities created.

Cllr Daubney continued: "The sheer geographical size of Norfolk has led us to believe that both a single unitary authority and the so called 'County Donut' authority could result in many of our residents feeling isolated and remote from their Council. There is already a sense that at times west Norfolk is 'invisible' from Norwich. A single county unitary could mean that resources are inevitably focussed too heavily on Norwich and its needs to the detriment of people and businesses located in the west of the county."

"If Norfolk is, as we believe, too large to be run as a single council, then the only rational way of dividing the county is to do it in a way that makes sense to the way people live their lives - where they shop, work, spend their leisure time, go to school, and how and where they access health and other public services."

"We believe that the worst of all worlds would be the so-called 'nutcracker'. What thought has gone in to how the costs of potential coastal flooding, an ageing population, second home ownership and poor road networks might be met in the northern coastal area; an area which relies heavily on seasonal tourism for its economy? It's a high risk, high cost option that makes no sense of the reality of Norfolk."

"Our proposal capitalises on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically change local government. It will bring local government closer to people, giving them a greater say in how things are done in their area, recognising the distinctiveness of the two regions and allowing service delivery to be designed around those differences."

The Borough Council also advocates the setting up of a Norfolk Commission to secure the provision of those services that are most appropriately delivered on a county-wide basis and the setting up of Local Services Forums - effectively clusters of parishes - to enable certain budgets and decisions to be devolved to a much more local level - giving parishes a greater say in the development and delivery of local services.

The two authorities would work together to ensure that the unique and special identity of Norfolk as a county is preserved.

The full submission is available on the Borough Council's website www.west-norfolk.gov.uk.