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Unitary decision to go to the wire

PUBLISHED: 08:48 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:46 06 July 2010

The multi-million pound battle to overhaul town halls in Norfolk and Suffolk is likely to go the wire with a decision expected today on whether to present ministers with the case for change.

The multi-million pound battle to overhaul town halls in Norfolk and Suffolk is likely to go the wire with a decision expected today on whether to present ministers with the case for change.

The Boundary Committee is set to decide today whether or not it can still meet the July 15 deadline to produce a recommendation for Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire, after a High Court ruling last week which many believe could finally derail the convoluted process.

Currently in Norfolk alone, spending on drawing up plans for unitary authorities, or fighting them in the courts, is well over £2m - or around 1pc of council tax - and county council leader Daniel Cox said on Saturday that he believed the latest ruling meant that the chances of anything happening were “now almost non-existent”.

But Steve Morphew leader of Norwich City Council said now was not the time to give up on the process.

“I am not listening to the doom mongers,” he said. “Its death knell has been called a number of times now. The opponents of unitary government have stopped making arguments against it and are just trying to stop it by delaying it.

“I do think there is a chance it could happen,” he added. “If it doesn't happen now you can guarantee in a few years time we will be back in exactly the same situation, because it is something that needs to happen.”

On Friday three Suffolk district councils, including Waveney, won a court ruling on Friday stating that their views had not been fairly considered - and there will be no time to do the detailed work to cost and consider any previously discarded options and consult on them before a general election gets in the way.

To find out the Boundary Committee's decision log on to www.eveningnews24.co.uk later today.

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