Report on councils shake-up delayed

A LANDMARK report on the future of how Suffolk is ruled has been delayed at the eleventh hour after being derailed by a court ruling.The Boundary Commission was due to submit its final assessment on the wholesale restructuring of local government in the county today.

Simon Tomlinson

A LANDMARK report on the future of how Suffolk is ruled has been delayed at the eleventh hour after being derailed by a court ruling.

The Boundary Commission was due to submit its final assessment on the wholesale restructuring of local government in the county today.

But the deadline has now been extended to consider the full ramifications of a last-minute legal decision in which three Suffolk districts won the right to have their say in the process.


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A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government, which was due to receive the report, said: “We have received a request from the Boundary Committee to extend the deadline for their advice, which we have granted.

“Once it is clear when any appeal may be determined a new deadline for the Boundary Committee's advice will be specified.

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“We are still clear that if appropriate unitary structures are identified for Suffolk that have the potential to offer real benefits for the residents, it would be wrong to deny them.”

The report set to indicate which option should be given the go-ahead to replace the county and seven districts - a giant One Suffolk unitary or an Ipswich-Felixstowe and Greater Suffolk councils.

But Suffolk Coastal, St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath all challenged the Boundary Committee's decision not to consider a three unitary council solution in the review ordered two years ago by the Secretary of State.

Last week, they were backed by the High Court, which said splitting Suffolk into three - an enlarged Ipswich, West and East unitaries - had been unfairly ignored.

Costs of the judicial review have been awarded against the Boundary Committee and the Secretary of State.

Time is now becoming critical in the council shake-up. If the Parliamentary Orders are not laid by December, elections to any new authorities are unlikely to be held next year.

The Conservative Party has already indicated that it would pull the plug on reorganisation if it wins the General Election.

Unless the councils and the committee can now agree a way forward, the judge will hear further argument on exactly what steps the court will take to ensure the process followed by the Committee is a fair one.

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