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More time to respond on boundary plans

PUBLISHED: 15:08 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:18 05 July 2010

FOLLOWING the recent call by the leader of Suffolk Coastal, the Boundary Committee for England (BCE) has agreed that people can have more time to respond to the draft proposals on the future shape of local government in Suffolk.

FOLLOWING the recent call by the leader of Suffolk Coastal, the Boundary Committee for England (BCE) has agreed that people can have more time to respond to the draft proposals on the future shape of local government in Suffolk.

Everyone had been given until September 26 to give their views on the draft proposals from the BCE and offer their alternatives, but the BCE has now confirmed it will 'receive and take into account' responses received after that date.

“I would like to publicly thank Archie Gall, Director of the BCE, for agreeing to my request that they should accept responses from local residents and community organisations after the original deadline,” said Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal. “The announcement two weeks ago that the financial workbooks were going to be available a week later than originally planned was a big problem for many town and parish councils in our district who were reserving judgement until they had been produced.

“I take this as another positive sign that the BCE is prepared to listen. The main reason for the delay is because it has asked for additional work to be done to allow for Lowestoft to be considered as still part of Suffolk, and now they are giving everyone more time to respond.

“The BCE is showing encouraging flexibility and I hope that will continue when they look at whether to recommend introducing unitary councils in Suffolk, and our case for there being three councils if new councils are to be brought in. I would urge people to take this opportunity to give the BCE their views,” added Mr Herring.

The delay in meeting the original deadline in producing the financial workbooks has been caused by the BCE announcement at the end of August that it wanted both its draft proposals, and its fall-back option of one giant Suffolk council, to also include the implications of including Lowestoft in Suffolk.

In his letter to Mr Gall on September 4, Mr Herring stated his concern 2because many town and parish councils are waiting for the financial information … before they finalise their views. In the interests of full and thorough public consultation and public engagement, I urge you to allow the public to submit their views up to a week after the formal end of consultation”.

Mr Gall has responded by letter saying that “I would be reluctant to agree a formal extension to the consultation timetable. However, in the circumstances, the Committee would be content to receive and take into account representations received after September 26”.

Mr Herring had previously expressed his concerns about “this frantic 30-day exercise to determine the future of local government in Suffolk for the next 30 years” and that the consultation process was “fundamentally flawed” as one of the key factors for people was information about the future level and cost of their services, information which is still not fully available.

People can give their views on www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk/yourcouncil/future or www.electoralcommission.org.uk/boundary-reviews/all-reviews/eastern/suffolk/suffolk-structural-review or email reviews@boundarycommittee.org.uk or write to Review Manager, (Norfolk/Suffolk Review), The Boundary Committee for England, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London SW19 2HW. All responses will appear on BCE's website.

Suffolk Coastal's preferred unitary option if changes must be introduced is for three councils based on an East Suffolk, West Suffolk and an Ipswich and South Suffolk Council.

Including Lowestoft and Felixstowe in East Suffolk would mean that one council would be responsible for all the coastal and estuary defence issues.

At the same time, more than any other part of the county, East Suffolk is home to regional centres of excellence, with Felixstowe and Lowestoft Ports, BT/Adastral Park, its 'power corridor' of low carbon energy providers, as well as Snape Maltings and Sutton Hoo.

A large part of East Suffolk is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while it also has many market towns and picture-book villages and some of the highest quality of life ratings in the country. It is therefore little surprise that so many tourists visit the attractions and resorts in East Suffolk, and that nearly ten per cent of jobs are linked to tourism.

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