Broadland to sit out unitary battle

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Council chiefs are to sit out the battle for Norfolk - after opting to act as judge and jury on rival plans for new-look unitary authorities instead.Councils are being forced to draw up plans to replace the existing two-tier system of county council and seven district authorities after ministers ordered a review of the current system.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Council chiefs are to sit out the battle for Norfolk - after opting to act as judge and jury on rival plans for new-look unitary authorities instead.

Councils are being forced to draw up plans to replace the existing two-tier system of county council and seven district authorities after ministers ordered a review of the current system.

But last night Broadland district council, which is likely to swept away by any of the proposed changes, opted for a different tack.


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The authority, which had been looking at the option of merging with Norwich and South Norfolk, said the preliminary work indicated the proposal could not be justified.

Council leader Simon Woodbridge said instead the authority would probe the cases made by others and call them in for scrutiny.

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“The Boundary committee say their process of evaluation must be evidence based,” he said. “But the evidence is to benefit ministers only. We are likely therefore to want to call in the boundary committee once their work is nearing completion to test their specification for what they call evidence.

He said the council's ambition was to raise awareness of the government process “so flawed” it could not see the achievements of Norfolk councils in delivering services.

“Broadland district council will be putting the resources we were expecting to deploy in preparing our own bid, towards performing a close scrutiny function of all the others,” he said.

“It's good advice to read the small print before signing up for goods and services,” he said. “The small print for unitary re-organisation currently sits on a minister's desk in Whitehall and we're not allowed to see it.”

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