Unitary debate: James Hehir

IT is an exciting time to be part of local government in Suffolk. It is currently gripped by discussions about its future. However to most people the only two things that matter about local government are the level of their council tax and whether their basic services are done well.

IT is an exciting time to be part of local government in Suffolk. It is currently gripped by discussions about its future. However to most people the only two things that matter about local government are the level of their council tax and whether their basic services are done well. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

The Boundary Committee proposal is for two new unitary councils to replace the eight that currently exist. This is good for three reasons:

1. Having fewer councils is cheaper

2. Within two years there should be a new system of local government that sweeps away the current daft system which duplicates services; and


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3. Two councils will ensure that local people still retain a strong say in what services get delivered and that local politicians can really influence what happens in their area.

North Haven - the working title of the proposed Ipswich-Felixstowe authority - is a good proposal. The main reasons why:

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1. It is better than the only alternative on the table (one massive local authority with a population of up to 700,000) which will require a bureaucratic structure to manage the services across a huge geographical area;

2. North Haven will be a new council with a population of 200,000 people, which would be able to focus on local needs and make it a better place to live and work in. It is an area with much in common - people living, working and spending their leisure time on the same patch.

3. A competitive North Haven would benefit the rest of rural Suffolk.

4. The North Haven unitary would not be a greater Ipswich but would reflect the needs of the various communities that make up the area.

5. The new council would work with existing parish and town councils to improve services to all communities.

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