Plans for a 3 unitary council dismissed

HOPES for a three unitary council solution to local government reorganisation in Suffolk have been quashed.

Russell Claydon

HOPES for a three unitary council solution to local government reorganisation in Suffolk have been quashed.

The Boundary Committee for England (BCE), who are in charge of the council shake-up, have effectively dismissed the option by not extending the public consultation process.

An alliance of Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury and Waveney are against the preferred option to abolish the district and county councils in favour of two unitary councils.

They have been campaigning for three all-serving councils to cover east Suffolk, west Suffolk and the Ipswich and Felixstowe area.

In a written response to a letter sent by the leaders of the three councils asking for a meeting on the matter, the BCE have confirmed no further consultation will take place.

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The preferred option of an Ipswich-Felixstowe unitary and a Suffolk rural council - with Lowestoft incorporated into Norfolk - is competing with the Suffolk County Council backed One Suffolk option.

The Secretary of State Hazel Blears will make her decision on the shake-up by March 27 next year - six weeks later than expected after it was deemed more time was needed to consider the financial ramifications of scrapping the two tier system in Suffolk and Norfolk.

The alliance of councils strongly criticized the response from the BCE, saying it had been an “unjust process”.

Council leaders Geoffrey Jaggard (Forest Heath), John Griffiths (St Edmundsbury) and Mark Bee (Waveney), issued a statement which said: “We told the Boundary Committee that our proposal has not been afforded anything like the same degree of consideration as that given to the unwieldy and undemocratic Suffolk Rural and One Suffolk options and yet it appears they couldn't care less.

“What clearer evidence could there be of an unjust process which, by not allowing all options to be considered, is clearly not giving local people a chance to have their say?”

They added: “How can a process being used to determine the future local democratic structure for Suffolk do anything but alienate voters from the democratic process if at the outset it refuses them the opportunity of a full review of all the options?

“We are very angry and believe this is further evidence of a hugely flawed process.

“We remain certain that a three unitary structure would be the best way to deliver strong, effective and engaging local government and we now call on the Boundary Committee once more to meet with us, listen to our proposals and afford us the same consideration that has been given to the unwieldy and undemocratic giant Suffolk option.”

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council previously told the EADT: “We have consistently maintained that a single unitary council would be the most efficient in delivering services and represent the best value for money for Suffolk council tax payers.”

The BCE has until February 13 to submit its recommendations to the Government.

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