City welcomes new council plans

Norfolk councils are today considering the implications of new proposals which could give more power to local communities.

Norfolk councils are today considering the implications of new proposals which could give more power to local communities.

The Government's White Paper on the future of local government, unveiled this morning, proposes more mayors and elected leaders, greater scrutiny from the public, and the power for local councils to bring in bylaws with fixed penalties without Whitehall approval.

Norwich City Council has already welcomed White Paper and said it could give new life to both Norwich and Norfolk.

'The White Paper is good news for everyone,' said Steve Morphew, leader of the city council.

“One of the main proposals is to give more say to local people and local neighbourhoods on services and how they should be provided. Norwich City Council is ideally placed to do this and is already moving down that road. The Government is looking for local authorities to pilot neighbourhood management and the city of Norwich is an ideal candidate.

“It could mean the opportunity to create a new council which would be able to focus directly on the needs of the city of Norwich. A new council would include not just the current city council powers, but could also include powers transferred from Norfolk County Council - like education, children's services and adult social services. We intend to see if we can meet the criteria that the Government has set, and if we do we will be bidding for a new unitary council for Norwich.”

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Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson said: “This is very positive news for the city and the city council and I would both welcome and support a bid for a unitary Norwich.”

Suffolk councils have also responded to the proposals.

Speaking on behalf of council leaders in Suffolk, councillor Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, said: "What we need to understand is what the White Paper can deliver for all the people of Suffolk. Stronger local government is essential for stronger communities. Our councils are already working together to improve services. Our goals are to simplify decision-making and reduce costs. Our aims are better services, easier access and clearer accountability.

"Everyone who lives in the county has an interest in a stronger Suffolk. Together we can campaign and raise awareness, locally and nationally, for improved skills, better infrastructure and greater economic prosperity. From the smallest neighbourhood to our urban centres, all have their part to play as drivers of an improving county. The real test of this White Paper will be in the benefits it delivers for our residents."