Last rites for Norwich super council

Sarah HallThe fading embers of Norwich City Council's unitary dream will be raked over by councillors next week - when they hear of the 'considerable steps' taken to stop work on the transformation.Sarah Hall

The fading embers of Norwich City Council's unitary dream will be raked over by councillors next week - when they hear of the "considerable steps" taken to stop work on the transformation.

As soon as Labour lost the general election, the writing was on the wall for the city's hopes of getting control for delivering services such as education and social services to Norwich families

Prime minister David Cameron said on a pre-election visit to Norwich that his party would reverse the previous government's decision to grant Norwich unitary status and the Queen's Speech has since detailed the coalition's plans for a local government bill to revoke it.

Technically, the unitary plans will still progress until laws come in to place to stop them, but local government minister Bob Neill wrote to City Hall asking it not to spend any more money on implementing unitary status.

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City council leader Steve Morphew then asked city council officers to stop "the majority" of implement-ation work with immediate effect.

That includes:

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No new financial commitments on implementation work.

Freezing recruitment of the new chief executive who would have led the new council, along with strategic directors.

Stopping secondments from Norfolk County Council into the joint implementation team.

Axing proposed visits to existing unitary councils.

An end to senior management liaison meetings with the county council.

The outcome of a judicial review, launched by the county council and questioning the legality of the process which led to the Labour government granting Norwich unitary status is still awaited, but could be largely academic given the new coalition's determination to kill off the new unitary plans in its Local Government Bill.

Mr Morphew confirmed the regular meetings of the implementation executive, which consists of councillors from the city and county council and was charged with setting up the proposed unitary council, would be cut back.

But some work was continuing which would improve services for people in the city, including a children's plan, despite what seemed like the nail in the unitary coffin.

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