Unitary Suffolk `empowers grass roots'

COMMUNITY boards to enable local decisions to be made at grass roots level have been proposed as part of the county council's submission to the Boundary Committee on unitary government in Suffolk.

Graham Dines

COMMUNITY boards to enable local decisions to be made at grass roots level have been proposed as part of the county council's submission to the Boundary Committee on unitary government in Suffolk.

The county claims it would put “real power into the hands of local people” if a single unitary county council were to be given the go-ahead.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of the council, said: “I am convinced that the creation of community boards, offering genuine local representation, alongside the strength of a single, well-resourced council would be a powerful combination for the new authority and would secure long term success and prosperity for Suffolk.”


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As lobbying gathers speed to meet the Boundary Committee's deadline on public consultation on two unitary options - a single county authority or two unitaries based on Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds - Mr Pembroke said: “Neighbourhood empowerment is a vital element which any new authority will have to address, whichever unitary solution is eventually proposed.”

Meanwhile opposition Labour county councillors have accused the authority of encouraging its 28,000 employees to email the Boundary Committee with their views on local government reorganisation without telling them that their names and opinions are being publicly displayed.

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Since the beginning of the consultation on the Boundary Committee's recommendations, Suffolk County Council has used email, leaflets and the council's internal email system to encourage staff to have a say on the council's future.

Labour's Sue Thomas said: “We're extremely concerned that the council is not making its staff aware that their names and views are being made public.”

But Mr Pembroke said: “Our staff represents a large group of Suffolk residents and service users, so it is only right that they should have the opportunity to express their opinion on the future of their county.

“It is made absolutely clear on the committee's website that the names and opinions of people responding will be published, yet despite this they continue to flow in.

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