FENLAND VILLAGES COULD BE AFFECTED IN MAJOR SHAKE UP PLANNED FOR NORFOLK

PUBLISHED: 13:48 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 08:32 02 June 2010

AN overhaul of councils in Norfolk - which could have a major affect on Fenland villages that currently come under West Norfolk Council- should see the creation a single super council.

That is the conclusion of the Boundary Committee, which today sets out

AN overhaul of councils in Norfolk - which could have a major affect on Fenland villages that currently come under West Norfolk Council- should see the creation a single super council.

That is the conclusion of the Boundary Committee, which today sets out its findings to councils about the best way to create new unitary authorities.

Meanwhile the committee said that in Suffolk its proposal is for a unitary council linking Ipswich and Felixstowe and then a 'rest of Suffolk ' council, but minus Lowestoft.

It also said there was merit in exploring a single Suffolk option.

The decision means that the committee concluded broadly that the county council's single council plan would be the best way to deliver a change both quickly and cost-effectively.

What now remains to be seen is the political reaction and whether the project will now be pushed forward or kicked into the long grass.

For Norfolk the committee suggested that two other models could be explored - a doughnut of greater Norwich, and rest of Norfolk but which also includes Lowestoft, and a another model linking Norwich to Yarmouth.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "We said all along that one, new local council for the whole of Norfolk would be the simplest, clearest and most cost-efficient solution. It is the least disruptive in terms of its impact on the 'big ticket' services such as social care and education and I am pleased today's draft proposal keeps Norfolk and Norwich together.

And he added: "The addition of Lowestoft is an interesting proposition. In making it, the Boundary Committee is clearly persuaded about the close connection between Yarmouth and Lowestoft. We will consider this carefully, talk with our colleagues in Lowestoft and Suffolk and listen to what others, especially local stakeholders, have to say."

He said there was a long way to go before any final recommendation was made, and added: "I am very clear that this draft proposal would not create some sort of super county council - far from it. The proposed new council would be completely new, building on the best from all the current councils, looking and feeling local wherever people live. It would be very simple to contact and easy to access and no-one will be in any doubt about who does what and who is responsible for what."

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: "There will be widespread surprise at this proposal as it misses the point about the importance of Norwich as a city, as an economic engine for the area, and the need for a clear distinction between the needs of urban and rural areas.

"But the argument is far from over. We now need to go back to making the arguments for a unitary council for greater Norwich, and to persuade the boundary committee to change its mind."

Adrian Ramsay, leader of the Green Party Group on the city council, commented: "The Green Party continues to support unitary status for Norwich. This would deliver more accountable local government. One of the options that would be consulted on does include this, but the other two would be disastrous for the city because local government would be more remote from the people it needs to serve."

Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat councillor, said: "We have always supported a unitary Norwich on extended boundaries and that is still very much an option and something that would bring local government closer to the people.

"However, we wanted to see Norwich as a unitary authority in the context of viable local government arrangements for the whole of Norfolk. So we will now have to look carefully at the options put forward.

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