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'A waste of time and money' - extra meeting over council division shake-up blasted

PUBLISHED: 22:15 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 22:15 31 December 2019

A map of the current Norfolk electoral boundaries. Pic: The Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

A map of the current Norfolk electoral boundaries. Pic: The Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

The Local Government Boundary Commission

An extra council meeting, called just to discuss how councillors should respond to a proposed shake-up of council divisions across Norfolk, has been blasted as a waste of time and money.

Ed Maxfield, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Liberal Democrats.Ed Maxfield, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

The independent Local Government Boundary Commission for England has been considering whether there should be a new pattern of council divisions in the county.

The commission says a review of Norfolk County Council's electoral divisions was needed because of an "electoral imbalance in Norfolk divisions".

It held a consultation last year, inviting public representations.

The review aims to make sure each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters and that each division reflects the interests and identities of communities.

The commission said it was not planning to cut the number of councillors from the current 84.

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The county council will be making its own submission and County Hall officers have called an extra meeting of the council next month so councillors can vote on their response.

But Ed Maxfield, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall, criticised the move.

He said: "It's unbelievable really, when we are faced with millions of pounds of spending cuts, that council officers want to call an extra meeting - two weeks after one that is already in the diary - to debate something almost no one outside the debating chamber will care about.

"It will be a costly waste of time and money.

"At the last full council meeting a few weeks ago I challenged the administration over whether they were on top of their submission to the commission. I was assured they knew what they were doing. Now it seems they have decided they want an extra two weeks and they are happy for taxpayers to foot the bill for an extra meeting to discuss it.

"It's an issue that creates a lot of hot air inside County Hall but hardly anyone outside the council will be interested in our discussions about where the boundaries run between this division and that."

A county council spokesman said: "Due to the recent general election purdah period, the commission extended the consultation deadline until February 11. The February 3 council meeting will allow further time for the boundary work to be completed."

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