Norwich unitary bid fails - for now

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Norwich's bid for home rule failed today - but the city council has been given a lifeline from ministers to have another go.Local government secretary Hazel Blears ruled out a proposal for a new unitary council based on the city's existing boundaries.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Norwich's bid for home rule failed today - but the city council has been given a lifeline from ministers to have another go.

Local government secretary Hazel Blears ruled out a proposal for a new unitary council based on the city's existing boundaries.

But she gave the green light to plans for Ipswich to become a unitary.

While a second controversial plan for a larger 'greater Norwich' council could win government backing subject to a redrawing of the city's boundaries.

Ms Blears said she would press for the boundary commission of the electoral commission to advise on the city's proposals - which could see the city extended to take in urban areas such as Sprowston, Costessey and Hellesdon.

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The decision left both supporters and opponents of the unitary bid claiming victory today, with fears that public services being left in limbo while the year long review takes place.

The leaders of Norfolk County Council, Broadland and South Norfolk are currently holding talks at County Hall to gauge their response to the announcement.

Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said today: “We always believed this was a means to an end and not an end in itself. We wanted the city of Norwich to be able to play its full role in taking advantage of the opportunities and tackling the challenges which lie ahead.”

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