Leaders attack council changes

Ian Clarke The leaders of Breckland and North Norfolk councils have criticised the decision to give Norwich “home rule.”In what was widely condemned as a blatantly political move by the Labour government, local government minister Rosie Winterton gave the go-ahead to the city to run all services within its existing boundaries as a unitary council and laid down the draft orders to create a new authority.

Ian Clarke

The leaders of Breckland and North Norfolk councils have criticised the decision to give Norwich “home rule.”

In what was widely condemned as a blatantly political move by the Labour government, local government minister Rosie Winterton gave the go-ahead to the city to run all services within its existing boundaries as a unitary council and laid down the draft orders to create a new authority.

The decision flies in the face of advice from the independent Boundary Committee which had recommended a council for the whole of Norfolk.

But the government said the city needed strong leadership because of its crucial role in the local economy and made its ruling after noting that councils in Norfolk were overwhelmingly against the single unitary plan.

Norfolk County Council said it will challenge the decision in the courts and it could yet stumble if the House of Lords rejects the plan.

Most Read

If it goes ahead, Norwich will be controlled by a single council, but the rest of the county will continue to have a county council and districts, such as Breckland and North Norfolk.

Breckland leader William Nunn said: “I think it is a bizarre decision which creates a pig in a poke and was only wanted by politicians in Norwich. I think it demonstrates a real ignorance of the vital economic relationship between the city and the rest of the county.

“By creating this imbalance, you will tear the heart out of the county as well as creating needless upheaval in local service provision.

“The Keep Norfolk Local Coalition will now work with the county council in challenging the politically motivated reorganisation which to many will look like shameless gerrymandering.

“It is the worst of all options for the people of Norfolk.”

Virginia Gay, leader of North Norfolk Council: “After all these years and all the money that this has cost and all the time and trouble, we have a decision that he government could have made two or three years ago. We do not know how local services in North Norfolk might be affected if this break-up goes through.”

Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson said: “It's gerrymandering of the worst possible kind. The idea that we are going to break everything up is a disaster. It's the worst of all possible worlds. What's going to happen to the rest of Norfolk?”

But Norwich South MP Charles Clarke welcomed the announcement.

“At a time of great change, Norwich needs the power to determine its own future, including in the vitally important areas of planning, transport, education and social care,” he said. “This decision will provide that power and explains why so many parts of city opinion favour this change.”

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