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Super council would save £24m a year

PUBLISHED: 17:50 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:14 05 July 2010

A new super council for Norfolk and Lowestoft would generate savings of more than £24m a year and mean lower council tax bills for most residents - according to supporters of the concept.

A new super council for Norfolk and Lowestoft would generate savings of more than £24m a year and mean lower council tax bills for most residents - according to supporters of the concept.

Norfolk County Council has produced the financial case for its single council model which suggests that the vast majority of council tax payers would be better off.

The authority says that a new unitary council working locally to serve people in Norfolk and Lowestoft would generate annual recurring efficiency savings of at least £24.59m which could be used to improve public services and help keep council tax in check.

But bills for Breckland residents would rise by 3.9pc, which, for a Band D council taxpayer equates to about an extra 88p a week.

The business case also assumes that there would be around 530 job losses, though school staff would be unaffected by the plans.

The Boundary Committee's consultation ends on September 26 and a paper summing up the council's findings is being discussed at a special meeting of County Council members on Monday before the council's cabinet agrees its response later in the same day.

Chief Executive David White's report to councillors says that a single unitary option for Norfolk retains the integrity of Norwich and Norfolk, minimises disruption and gives maximum value for money; provides a single voice for Norfolk and effective leadership of the economy whilst containing strong local delivery, engagement and access arrangements that mean its residents will still experience it as their local council.

“In drawing up our information for the Boundary Committee we have been keen to minimise any risk for any new council, if it comes into being, by taking a considered and financially conservative view of the financial assumptions that underpin its creation.

“Clearly, the level of council tax would be for members of the new authority to decide. But our work clearly demonstrates that with projected annual savings of £24.59m, they are able to reduce the overall tax burden by over £5m a year and still be able to invest more in improving public services.

“Bringing eight Norfolk councils, plus Lowestoft, together to work locally as one offers the biggest potential for savings and the greatest scope for efficiency,” he added.

“It is up to the Boundary Committee for England to decide on any final recommendation for change but it is very clear that, of the consultation questions asked of us, the single council option is unequivocally affordable in terms of the criteria set and potentially enables an exciting agenda for change and improvement in public services locally.”

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