Opinion against city home rule bid

Opponents of plans to give Norwich Home Rule believe the tide is turning against City Hall's ambitions. Vivienne Clifford Jackson, leader of South Norfolk Council, insisted the plans were dead in the water after grilling local government minister Phil Woolas on the issue.

Opponents of plans to give Norwich Home Rule believe the tide is turning against City Hall's ambitions.

Vivienne Clifford Jackson, leader of South Norfolk Council, insisted the plans were dead in the water after grilling local government minister Phil Woolas on the issue.

One of city council's bids already breaches the government's criteria not to break up existing authorities, because it proposes a new council taking in parts of neighbouring Broadland and South Norfolk. A second consideration that a bid should enjoy widespread support is also unlikely to be met after a number of public declarations of opposition.

On Thursday councillors in North Norfolk overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to support Norwich's bid to become a unitary authority. And Sprowston Parish council has also said it would resist becoming part of the city Thorpe St Andrew as one of the

Mrs Clifford Jackson claimed that Mr Woolas was unlikely to approve the bid following a meeting during the Local Government Association conference in London when she asked for “reassurance that unitary status will not be granted where it will mean the emasculation of neighbouring authorities, economic damage and where it has no overall support locally”.

She said that Mr Woolas told her that he was “against the cherry picking of authorities” and that the impact on neighbouring councils will be taken into account.

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“Unless Mr Woolas is planning an embarrassing U-turn in the Near Year, then even he and the government are against the Norwich bid,” she said.

“The city council are in a hole, and it's time to stop digging. This no-hope bid is costing their council taxpayers a small fortune.”

Simon Woodbridge, leader of Broadland district council said: “People can see that this is going to add to their council tax bills where they live and it would affect all Norfolk residents.”

But Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “It's entirely up to other authorities what they say about it.

“Even those people coming out against this can see the logic of the case.

“The reality is we are looking at a much bigger agenda about the long term future of the city. It's hard to envisage a city in 15 years time with 285,000 people spread out in a growth area being run by four councils - it makes absolutely no sense.”