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Unitary council D-Day fast approaching

PUBLISHED: 13:00 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:58 06 July 2010

LOWESTOFT could know as early as next week whether there will be a Suffolk-wide merger under a new super unitary authority.

In a letter to the county council and the district authorities in Suffolk, the government says it wants elections to the unitaries in May, which could be on the same day as the General Election.

LOWESTOFT could know as early as next week whether there will be a Suffolk-wide merger under a new super unitary authority.

In a letter to the county council and the district authorities in Suffolk, the government says it wants elections to the unitaries in May, which could be on the same day as the General Election.

It is the clearest indication yet that ministers want to create all-purpose councils, although communities secretary John Denham will make a formal decision after the independent Boundary Committee submits its final proposals for a unitary shake-up.

If the One Suffolk option is adopted, it will have 126 councillors. If the two councils solution is chosen, Ipswich-Felixstowe will have 40 councillors - 22 from Ipswich - and Greater Suffolk 101 to serve Lowestoft, rural areas and market towns including Woodbridge, Southwold, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket, and Sudbury,

Mr Denham could even create an Ipswich only unitary and leave the rest of Suffolk two tier, with services split between the county and the other six districts, although this was rejected two years ago on the grounds that it would not be viable financially.

Currently, the county council has 75 councillors and the seven districts 306 between them. Either unitary option would reduce this number by nearly two-thirds.

Ipswich has 13 county councillors and 48 borough members but this total would be reduced to 22 under unitary options being put forward by the Boundary Committee.

Borough leader Liz Harsant said: “I don't think this is enough for Ipswich and I would hope we can negotiate more. For instance, my own ward disappears.”

David Ellesmere, Labour opposition leader on Ipswich council, said his group was sticking to its policy of an urban unitary council for the borough.

“We would not support any plans for Ipswich to be included in a large rural authority.”

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