Fresh twist in Norfolk council overhaul

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Ministers have today signalled a fresh twist in the break up of Norfolk after revealing that councils in Yarmouth and Lowestoft could merge after all.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Ministers have today signalled a fresh twist in the break up of Norfolk after revealing that councils in Yarmouth and Lowestoft could merge after all.

The government put on hold plans to grant Ipswich and Exeter the right to go it alone and become one size fits all unitary on their current boundaries.

But the decision contains a sting in the tail for Norfolk after ministers said that the Boundary Committee, currently looking at council structures in the county, will also review arrangements in Suffolk and be able to look at crossing existing county boundaries when looking at 'unitary options'.


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The move is the biggest hint yet that the future council map of Norfolk could see a greater Norwich council, a new 'Yartoft' council including Yarmouth and Waveney, and a rural rest of Norfolk option.

And it comes days after councils submitted plans for new authorities in Norfolk after being told by the Boundary Committee that cross-border tie-ups were not an option.

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The announcement is the latest development in a process which critics fear is becoming a farce.

Ministers applied the brakes to Ipswich and Exeter, after originally giving them the green light in July, because the finances did not stack up and neither authority could meet the five-year deadline to pay back the costs of change.

Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson said the process was a “complete shambles” and would see the death of Norfolk.

“If you take out greater Norwich and Yarmouth, you are not going to be left with much and you effectively destroy Norfolk as an administrative unit,” he said. “People in Norfolk won't like that.”

But Waveney MP Bob Blizzard, who with Yarmouth's Tony Wright has lobbied hard to get the cross-border option on the table, said he was delighted at today's announcement.

“We know that Waveney District Council is in a mess and we are marginalised in a remote Suffolk County Council which has let us down on things like failing to put a third crossing for Lowestoft in its transport plan and closing our middle schools,” he said. “We should not carry on like this.

“A Waveney and Yarmouth link-up would be able to focus on our needs and priorities.”

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