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Boundaries fight moves into court

PUBLISHED: 10:10 06 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:13 05 July 2010

THREE Norfolk councils yesterday launched a High Court action against the Boundary Committee over the controversial shake-up of local authorities.

Breckland, South Norfolk and King's Lynn and West Norfolk councils have described the committee's draft proposals - which would create a single authority for Norfolk and Lowestoft - as "unlawful".

THREE Norfolk councils yesterday launched a High Court action against the Boundary Committee over the controversial shake-up of local authorities.

Breckland, South Norfolk and King's Lynn and West Norfolk councils have described the committee's draft proposals - which would create a single authority for Norfolk and Lowestoft - as “unlawful”.

Breckland is the lead partner in the joint High Court proceedings which were issued against the committee.

Breckland leader William Nunn said: “The Boundary Committee are required to consult with people on the proposals but how can anyone make a judgment or have input into the process without details of the cost implications and its affordability? This would be like walking into a car showroom to buy a car with no information on price or running costs.”

A spokesman said the budgeted costs of a judicial review are “between £50,000 to £65,000 for a successful case”.

He added: “The council will however constantly review the merits of proceeding with the case.”

The figure has risen from an initial £40,000 predicted when the three councils - along with North Norfolk District - agreed to contribute to a “fighting fund” against the reorganisation.

Other elements of the campaign previously outlined would be £185,000 for a referendum, £22,500 for a group of experts to scrutinise the proposals and a £50,000 lobbyist.

North Norfolk is helping towards the fund although its name is not on the High Court claim form.

The High Court papers allege “that the Boundary Committee's failure to address any issues of affordability at all prevents proper consultation on its proposals, which fundamentally undermines the entire reorganisa-tion process.”

The three councils also point out that “the BC's own officers advised against the creation of a single unitary authority and committee members ignored this advice without giving any reasons whatsoever”.

Alan Waters, executive member for corporate services and governance at Norwich City Council, which hopes ministers will back a greater Norwich unitary authority, did not think the challenge would derail the process.

“I'm pretty sure the government has covered all the bases and the judicial review will fail,” he said.

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