MPs unite to attack council plan

MPs have united across party lines to attack today's plan for a massive council shake-up in Suffolk.

MPS have united across party lines to attack today's plan for a massive council shake-up in Suffolk.

The move would see the county split into two unitary authorities and has already been branded a “monstrosity” by furious council bosses.

A Greater Ipswich authority, provisionally named North Haven, will include Ipswich, Felixstowe, the Shotley and Deben peninsulas, and parishes around Great Blakenham.

It means that the authority will be Suffolk's powerhouse, encompassing the Ipswich and Felixstowe docks, BT Research at Martlesham, and the SnOasis leisure complex.

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Lowestoft is to be joined with the whole of Norfolk, crushing Norwich city council's bid to become its unitary council.

St Edmundsbury had hoped to be the centre of a West Suffolk unitary, but now it looks as if it will be home to a much bigger Suffolk rural unitary

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Suffolk rural will take in Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury, parts of Babergh and Waveney, and most of Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal.

Bury St Edmunds Tory MP David Ruffley said the two unitary option was “blatant political gerrymandering” to enable Labour to “fiddle elections” to ensure a Labour victory in Ipswich-Felixstowe.

“It is a rotten proposal for Suffolk, a truly bizarre decision. Let us be clear about one thing - there will be no savings from this reorganisation and council tax will not be reduced because of it.

“Any savings that are mooted will be swallowed up by the gigantic costs of administering this reorganisation.”

Fellow Tory, Suffolk West MP Richard Spring said: “This solution is something of a muddle. A unitary for the west of the county would have been a cohesive unit and support by the public.”

And Chris Mole, Labour MP for Ipswich, said he was not in favour of any move to link Ipswich with Felixstowe.

He said: “I have always made it clear that I think a solution for Ipswich ought to focus primarily on the urban borough and not draw in communities that don't have the same priorities in terms of issues as the main body of the town does.”

Labour MPs Bob Blizzard (Waveney) and Tony Wright (Great Yarmouth) both said they believe that the Boundary Committee's draft proposals pave the way for the creation of a new council for the Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas, the so called Yartoft option.

Mr Blizzard said: “As they stand, today's proposals are nonsense. The Boundary Committee's idea of putting Lowestoft in with the whole of Norfolk, no doubt influenced by Waveney District Council's recent decision to transfer most of its services to Norfolk County Council, would create a large remote council that nobody in Lowestoft would want.

“However, it is significant that Lowestoft and Yarmouth are linked together in all the Boundary Committee's options. The report also concludes that the two towns are not well served by the current two tier system of district and county councils.

“I therefore think that today's report is a real opportunity to argue the case for a Great Yarmouth and Waveney unitary authority in the next stage of the process. The Boundary Committee has seen that Lowestoft has much in common with Great Yarmouth.

“I will now work jointly with Tony Wright MP for a much more local new council based on Lowestoft and Yarmouth.”

Mr Wright added: “The suggestion by the Boundary Committee for a Norfolk Wide Authority with Lowestoft is unacceptable.

“It is clear, however, that the Boundary Committee accepted the case for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth to be together.

“Both Bob and myself have supported a Yarmouth and Waveney Council as the most local workable option for both communities and we will work very closely with everyone who shares that view.

“We already have a 'Yartoft' local health service which works well. Such a council would bring further benefits.”

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