Parishes: Stay as you are, Norwich

Three more parish councils are declaring their opposition to Norwich's plans to secure “home rule”, it was confirmed last night.

Three more parish councils are declaring their opposition to Norwich's plans to secure “home rule”, it was confirmed last night.

Despite a charm offensive by City Hall to win over parishes on the urban fringes of Norwich to its hopes of creating a larger, single council for the area, Spixworth, Horsham St Faith and Hellesdon have now joined the “No” camp.

While that is unlikely to curb the city council's enthusiasm for an overhaul to unitary status, it is a further sign of the political battle that it is facing on its own doorstep.

Supporters of unitary status insist the change is needed to

co-ordinate the growth that is earmarked for the greater Norwich area in the next 15 years - expansion that could see

about 30,000 new homes being built.

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But opponents argue that the move would cost taxpayers millions of pounds and that the city's track record on services is poor compared with its neighbours in the Broadland

and South Norfolk districts.

Meanwhile, Norfolk County Council maintains that the change would represent poor value for money and insists that the current city/county partnership approach should be enhanced.

Thorpe St Andrew and Sprowston had already voted against the proposal. And North Norfolk District Council, which could benefit from any break-up of Broadland by taking in such places as Aylsham, Wroxham

and Coltishall, overwhelmingly rejected the idea. Yarmouth Borough Council has also given the plan the thumbs-down.

The city council is finalising two bids to local government and communities minister Ruth Kelly for submission on January 25.

One is for a new one-size-fits-all council based on its existing boundaries; the second, controversial, proposal is for a larger council area taking in places on the city outskirts such as Costessey, Taverham, Cringleford and Trowse.