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Politicians unite to hit out at plans

PUBLISHED: 13:06 07 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:50 05 July 2010

CONTROVERSIAL plans to join Lowestoft and Yarmouth under a single council have been shelved, but shock new proposals could see Lowestoft becoming part of a cross-border Norfolk super council.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to join Lowestoft and Yarmouth under a single council have been shelved, but shock new proposals could see Lowestoft becoming part of a cross-border Norfolk super council.

An announcement by the Boundary Committee proposes linking Lowestoft to Norfolk while the market towns and villages of Waveney would become part of a wider Suffolk authority without the port towns of Ipswich and Felixstowe.

Ipswich and Felixstowe will form a unitary council in the south of Suffolk, provisionally named North Haven, while the One Suffolk authority will include about 400,000 people living in Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury, parts of Babergh and Waveney, and most of Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal.

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney's Conservative group, said: “This is a total dog's breakfast and not anything that fits into any of the consultations that took place.

“To take Lowestoft out of the administration of Suffolk and to put it as part of Norfolk, competing with Yarmouth, Thetford, King's Lynn and the poorer areas of Norwich, will be bad news for the town.

“Rural Waveney, which has often been in second place to Lowestoft, will now be in third or fourth place to towns in a bigger Suffolk council. Our market towns will be lost.”

He said that the plans will also haemorrhage links between Lowestoft and the nearby coastal village of Kessingland, which would be at the north edge of the large Suffolk council.

Nick Webb, deputy leader of the Labour group on Waveney District Council was also strongly against the proposals.

“Nobody requested this, nobody recommended it. It's the worst of all worlds and makes a mockery of the whole process. A fudge that asks more questions than it answers,” he said.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said that the proposals linking Lowestoft to Norfolk pave the way to push on for a Yarmouth and Lowestoft unitary authority.

He said: “It is significant that Lowestoft and Yarmouth are linked together in all the Boundary Committee's options. The report also concludes that the two towns are not well served by the current two tier system of district and county councils.

“I think that the report is a real opportunity to argue the case for a Yarmouth and Waveney unitary authority in the next stage of the process. The Boundary Committee has seen that Lowestoft has much in common with Yarmouth.

“The Boundary Committee's idea of putting Lowestoft in with the whole of Norfolk, no doubt influenced by Waveney District Council's recent decision to transfer most of its services to Norfolk County Council, would create a large remote council that nobody in Lowestoft would want.”

Mick Castle, leader of Yarmouth Borough Council's Labour group, said he was disappointed that the bid for a Yartoft unitary council did not feature in yesterday's proposals from the Boundary Committee and said that he would push for a Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft unitary council.

Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, called the Boundary Committee's plans a farce. “A range of interesting proposals for the future were offered, yet the BCE have come up with a solution for Ipswich based on a couple of maverick proposals and paired it with an option that nobody requested, with an alternative that again nobody wanted.

“This was a golden opportunity to provide better, more efficient services that engaged with and served local communities, but it has been squandered with a carve-up that has butchered our county and our districts,” he said.


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