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'Strong support' for triple split

PUBLISHED: 09:37 09 April 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 06 July 2010

A PROPOSAL to split Suffolk into three unitary councils has strong public support - despite the option being ignored by those making the final decision, it was claimed last night.

A PROPOSAL to split Suffolk into three unitary councils has strong public support - despite the option being ignored by those making the final decision, it was claimed last night.

The Boundary Committee for England announced last month that it is looking at two options to turn the county into a single-tier local government system.

The first is one unitary authority covering the whole of Suffolk and the second is a two-unitary proposal with one covering rural Suffolk and the second serving Ipswich and Felixstowe.

But Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council, Geoffrey Jaggard, leader of Forest Heath and John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury, are opposed to the plans.

Instead they want to split Suffolk into East, West and Greater Ipswich unitaries - a proposal which they say has strong public support.

They claim that a survey carried out by research company ORB shows 60pc of people prefer the three unitary idea, compared to just 25pc for a single authority.

According to the survey this is because the majority of people believe a “One Suffolk” approach would be inefficient while an “Ipswich, West and East” structure would provide best value for money in terms of service delivery and improving deprived areas through regeneration and employment.

In a letter to the Secretary of State Hazel Blears the three leaders said: “We have written to ask the Boundary Committee why it has not considered the three unitary solution for Suffolk, which, as demonstrated by an independent opinion poll, commands majority support in Suffolk.

“We know that this option would meet the criteria that you have set out, and we are perplexed that the Boundary Committee appears not to take any interest in this option at all.

“Many people across Suffolk are extremely upset with the high-handed and cavalier approach that the Boundary Committee continues to display. We would be failing in our duty if we did not examine all the options available to us to support people's right to have their views taken on board.”

Max Caller, chairman of the Boundary Committee for England, said: “We want people to look carefully at what we're proposing and then tell us what they think and why. Any evidence we receive from this stage will add to that which we obtained in our consultation last year.”

The public has until May 14 to comment on the options and the committee will issue its report in July for the Secretary of State to consider over the summer.

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