Boost imminent for city home rule bid?

Norwich's bid for home rule could receive a shot in the arm tonight if North Norfolk councillors back a controversial carve-up with the city leading to the break-up of Broadland.

Norwich's bid for home rule could receive a shot in the arm tonight if North Norfolk councillors back a controversial carve-up with the city leading to the break-up of Broadland.

The district council, which meets in Cromer tonight, will consider a motion from leader Simon Partridge supporting the city's case to become a unitary authority on an enlarged boundary.

The council's cabinet has informally backed the plans, but Mr Partridge wants the full council to have the final say.

“If I was in their position I would also be going for this,” he said. “It would make things much easier, and because Norwich is such an important economic driver for the whole county it would make sense to be a unitary.

“But I am very concerned that money isn't wasted on re-organisation when it could go towards public services and I would want assurances that there will be no adverse impact on county services delivered to north Norfolk.

“We've given them provisional support, but it's got to be ratified by the full council and the vote could go either way.”

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And he denied that North Norfolk was party to a land grab at the expense of its neighbour.

“It's hypothetical at the moment,” he added. “I am pretty sure that some areas of Broadland such as Aylsham would sit much more comfortably with North Norfolk, but that's far in the future.”

Norwich is submitting two bids to government which must be finalised and submitted to ministers by January 25. The first is based on its existing boundary.

But the second would affect thousands of residents both in the suburbs of Norwich as the city seeks to take in the urban areas of Broadland including Taverham, Hellesdon, Sprowston and Rackheath, and six parishes in South Norfolk including Costessey, Trowse and Cringleford.

Under the plans the bulk of the leftovers would form part of an enlarged North Norfolk council and a smaller portion would join Yarmouth.

City Hall has circulated a briefing note indicating how the enlarged council would work - if Broadland council is scrapped. “For Broadland this will bring approximately 75,400 of their current population into the new unitary area reducing Broadland's population to approximately 45,700,” it said.

“We do not consider this to be sufficient for a continuing district council, and therefore we are proposing that this remaining area should be merged with mostly North Norfolk and/or partially Yarmouth.”

But though it promises “significant efficiency savings” arising from the abolition of Broadland and reducing South Norfolk neither option has been costed.