Damning report on Ipswich's unitary bid

People across Suffolk will suffer if Ipswich is allowed to "go it alone" and become a unitary authority, the county council warned yesterday.

People across Suffolk will suffer if Ipswich is allowed to "go it alone" and become a unitary authority, the county council warned yesterday.

Suffolk County Council has prepared a damning response to the government consultation on Ipswich's bid to be able to run its own affairs. Yesterday council leader Jeremy Pembroke said the whole county would feel the cuts in social services, schools and transport which would have to be made if the county lost the government cash that Ipswich brings it.

The warnings come as Norwich continues with its bid for unitary status, which is similarly being opposed by Norfolk County Council.

Suffolk County Council has put together a 60-page response to the government, accusing the borough council of having underestimated the cost of changing the structure of local government in Suffolk and risking damaging services from libraries to firefighting.

Mr Pembroke told the EDP yesterday: "It will mean in our judgment that there will be an impact on all the services we deliver to the rest of the county. It is an absolute fact that the services we deliver will be under threat. The services we deliver to Lowestoft will be under threat.

"Twenty per cent of our revenue budget will be transferred to Ipswich and the costs will stay behind. It will have an impact on education, social care and roads."

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The county council, which will discuss the issue on May 24, says the cost of change will be £43m and says the borough has under-estimated transition costs by £5m and the ongoing costs by £19m.

Meanwhile Ipswich Borough Council has dismissed the county council's views as scare-mongering. Leader Liz Harsant said: "Our financial case has been checked by the Department for Communities and Local Govern-ment, the Treasury and the Audit Commission."

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has also raised concerns about Ipswich running its own services. Suffolk NUT secretary Martin Goold claimed Ipswich Borough Council had not yet shown any clear advantages but had "glossed over the problems".

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