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Leader launches campaign over link-up

PUBLISHED: 07:36 08 February 2008 | UPDATED: 19:40 05 July 2010

THE leader of Waveney District Council has launched a campaign to stop a link with the neighbouring authority of Great Yarmouth after the Government announced plans to revamp the structure of the council system.

THE leader of Waveney District Council has launched a campaign to stop a link with the neighbouring authority of Great Yarmouth after the Government announced plans to revamp the structure of the council system.

The so-called “Yartoft” option would see a new unitary authority made up of Waveney District Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Mark Bee, leader of the Conservative-controlled Waveney council, said a campaign called RAY - Residents Against Yartoft is being launched.

“As a Conservative Party we will also be working with our colleagues in Great Yarmouth to challenge the whole idea,” said Mr Bee.

“We are going to launch an online petition that will go on the Waveney website. It will be unbiased because the government has asked us to carry out consultation.

“The Boundary Commission wants to know what the community feels about this,” he said.

“People need to be aware of the confusion this is going to cause. We've got Adnams brewery in Southwold which is the 'toast of Suffolk'. Will it have to become the 'toast of Norfolk'?

“Norfolk police will have to take on Waveney which will then be in competition for its tight resources,” said Mr Bee, who added, “I am a Suffolk boy born and bred. I live in Suffolk and I want to continue to live in Suffolk.”

He said it would not be logical to link Waveney with Great Yarmouth as both had been classified as failing councils recently by the Audit Commission.

Instead he wants to see links with other councils in Suffolk and although unable to give any official details did say Waveney would be “working closely” with colleagues in the county, as another option being considered by the Boundary Commission is linking Waveney with Suffolk Coastal and Ipswich councils to form a “Greater Ipswich” unitary authority

But not everyone is against a cross-county authority linking Waveney and Great Yarmouth areas.

Sally Spore, Lowestoft Mayor and leader of the Labour group on Waveney District Council, said: “There are already strong links between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth and this is an option that should be considered carefully.

“What we want is the best services for local residents and this is what the debate on any new unitary authority should be about.”

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard is also calling for local residents to consider all the options being put forward by the Boundary Commission.

“This gives local people a real opportunity to have their say on the way local services are provided in the future,” he said.

Mr Blizzard said he had been contacted by residents who were upset that decisions affecting the Lowestoft area, including support for a third crossing, were taken by councillors living in Ipswich and other parts of Suffolk many miles from the town.

The MP said there was already strong support for the cross-county boundary authority.

“We already have a health authority and the 1st East regeneration company linking the two communities and there has been strong support from the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce and leading teachers in the area.

“With such support from leaders in health, business and education the proposal for a unitary authority linking Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth areas has to be considered carefully,” he said.

In Great Yarmouth opinion is equally divided.

Conservative councillor Barry Coleman said his party would “strongly campaign” to oppose a link with Lowestoft although Labour group leader Trevor Wainwright said both communities had a lot to gain and hoped the Tories would have a “change of heart”.

Do you believe a new unitary authority linking the Lowestoft and Southwold area with Great Yarmouth is a good idea? Write to the Editor, The Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB, or email russell.cook@archant.uk.

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