Suffolk split in two by council shake-up

THE Boundary Committee shocked local government leaders in Suffolk by recommending two unitary authorities in Suffolk and one giant all-purpose council for Norfolk plus Lowestoft.

Graham Dines

THE Boundary Committee shocked local government leaders in Suffolk by recommending two unitary authorities in Suffolk and one giant all-purpose council for Norfolk plus Lowestoft.

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.

The proposed North Haven council is almost exactly the proposal put forward by the Liberal Democrats.

The Boundary Committee's proposals will be open to public consultation during the summer. It will then draw up final plans to be sanctioned by the Electoral Commission, which will forward them to the Secretary of State, who will make the final decision.

But the proposed reorganisation was this morning described as a “farcical” situation by an irate Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Mr Herring said: “This is a farcical situation whereby the BCE have ignored the solutions offered to them and are instead looking to impose something which has no understanding of the communities of Suffolk.

“In a very short time period, a range of interesting proposals for the future were offered, yet the BCE have come up with a solution for Ipswich based on a couple of maverick proposals and paired it with an option that nobody requested, with an alternative that again nobody wanted.

“This was a golden opportunity to provide better, more efficient services that engaged with and served local communities, but it has been squandered with a carve-up that has butchered our county and our districts.''

Mr Herring added: “Putting aside the annexation of Felixstowe, Kesgrave and 19 of our parishes for a moment, I find it impossible to fathom how the rest of Suffolk Coastal can best be served by becoming part of a massive council with 400,000 people.

“Looking at the criteria, I cannot see how creating one geographically massive new council will be locally accountable, while to date there has been absolutely no support for such a hare-brained idea.

“Our residents are used to receiving good, value for money services, and I honestly cannot see how creating one of the country's biggest councils will continue to deliver that success.''

Suffolk Coastal wanted three unitaries to be created in East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Ipswich.

“Our proposal would have seen Felixstowe in the same council as Lowestoft which made far more sense as they both face similar coastal defence and regeneration challenges. Now we have the ridiculous prospect of three different councils managing our county's coastal defences.

“The communities that make up Felixstowe now face the threat of becoming part of an aspiring city that needs to expand to achieve its goals, and with urban and social issues that are not those of a resort town.

“I am equally concerned about our communities between Felixstowe and Ipswich who have made it crystal clear that they do not want to be seen as some kind of Outer Ipswich.

“Their voice has been ignored so far, and what chance would they have to protect their largely rural lifestyles in a new unitary that will inevitably have urban regeneration as its biggest goal?”

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