Unitary county council plan 'bizarre'

South Norfolk Council has branded as “bizarre and unreasonable” proposals to create a single unitary council for Norfolk and the removal of Lowestoft from Suffolk.

South Norfolk Council has branded as “bizarre and unreasonable” proposals to create a single unitary council for Norfolk and the removal of Lowestoft from Suffolk.

The council claims the Boundary Committee's plan to abolish eight Norfolk authorities in favour of one giant unitary council, announced this week, would damage local democracy, especially at a time when more powers are meant to be given to local people.

Council leader John Fuller, who campaigned for a four unitary council solution as the best for Norfolk people and local democracy, said: “It's bizarre. Nobody asked for this. In fact, over 20 proposals of various types were submitted from councils and others in Norfolk but no reasonable person came up with this. It makes you wonder whether the experts at the Boundary Committee actually considered any of the evidence put to them.”

South Norfolk Council claims the proposals damage the democratic representation of local councils in their communities. Currently, 420 councillors in Norfolk represent 840,000 people, an average of 2,000 residents each. Under the proposed shake-up, this would be diluted at least five-fold.


You may also want to watch:


“These draft proposals take power away from local people. They break the democratic mandate between local government and the people they serve,” Mr Fuller continued.

“The process will cost councils a fortune. But worse, crossing the border into Suffolk also promises another wasteful police and health service reorganisation, which is madness at a time when the economy is facing a downturn. You'd think that the Government would have better things to do than change the nameplates on our local town halls.

Most Read

“Last week at a conference in Bournemouth, ministers told local council chiefs that a new Government White Paper would reveal new laws to bring councils closer to people. These draft proposals go totally in the other direction by creating unwieldy, one-size-fits-all, monster authorities. Ironically, by the time consultation on this proposal is complete, there will be new draft laws that point councils in exactly the opposite direction.”

And he questioned whether those formulating the proposals were familiar with the area. “No person who knows Norfolk or Suffolk well could have come up with this. I get no sense of inevitability or consensus on these proposals and without momentum, time is running out to make this happen before a general election.

“At South Norfolk Council, it's business as usual. There will be no done deal on this. It's all about fighting to give residents a set of councils that they recognise and relate to,” he said.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter