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Leaders say no to 'one' council

PUBLISHED: 09:57 03 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:55 05 July 2010

Waveney District Council has joined forces with two other local authorities to step up the campaign against proposals to create one giant unitary authority for Suffolk.

Waveney District Council has joined forces with two other local authorities to step up the campaign against proposals to create one giant unitary authority for Suffolk.

A single council covering 700,000 people would undermine local government and not give local people a real say or involve them in the running of their own affairs, according to a letter jointly written by Waveney leader Mark Bee.

He has teamed up with fellow leaders at St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils to fire off the letter to the Boundary Committee, which is overseeing a review of local government in the region.

They want to see east and west Suffolk councils created alongside an authority for the wider Ipswich area as part of their blueprint for the future of local government.

Their letter to the Boundary Committee includes a number of criticisms of the so-called One Suffolk plan being put forward by Suffolk County and Mid Suffolk councils, including:

Claims the financial case for a One Suffolk does not stack up;

It does not reflect the very real and different economic and social realities of the county;

It would be too big and remote from the communities it serves and that councils in east and west Suffolk would be more local and responsive;

The one council submission's proposal for improving adult social care is non-existent;

The county's services for children and young people have not been performing well for a number of years.

A joint statement from the leaders of the three councils, including Mr Bee, said: “We will take every opportunity to remind the Boundary Committee why the other submissions, particularly a giant mega-council for Suffolk, are flawed and unworkable.

“Local authorities must engage with their communities, yet this is just one of the many weaknesses in the One Suffolk case and we are imploring the Boundary Committee to take our concerns seriously.

“We are convinced that the case for three efficient, effective and dynamic councils is the strongest of all…”

The plans for an east Suffolk council feature Lowestoft as the main town, but Britain's most easterly town could still be included in a new Norfolk unitary authority. The government is due to make a decision on the local government review next year.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “A unitary Suffolk authority based on current boundaries, including Lowestoft, is the most credible solution for Suffolk. A unitary Suffolk will deliver affordable, high quality services, give more power to local communities and drive economic growth, including job creation.”

The spokesman added: “The independent financial advisors to the Boundary Commission said that the financial case for One Suffolk does stack up and is affordable.”

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