We're still in Suffolk

WE'VE won!That was the news to greet Lowestoft campaginers yesterday after it was revealed that the town will be staying under the control of a Suffolk-based local authority.

WE'VE won!

That was the news to greet Lowestoft campaginers yesterday after it was revealed that the town will be staying under the control of a Suffolk-based local authority.

The Boundary Committee for England abandoned any plans to put the north Suffolk town under the control of a giant new authority including the whole of Norfolk.

When the proposals to link Lowestoft with Norfolk were first announced last year there was an outcry across north Suffolk.

The Journal ran a Suffolk and Proud campaign and readers were quick to show their support.

Many took part in a march through Lowestoft town centre including Journal editor Russell Cook.

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'This is a victory for the people of Lowestoft who demonstrated quite clearly they wanted to remain under a Suffolk-based administration,' said Mr Cook.

The committee has published two draft proposals: a single unitary council for the whole of the current Suffolk County Council area; and a two-unitary pattern featuring an Ipswich and Felixstowe unitary authority and a rural Suffolk authority comprising the rest of the county including Lowestoft.

After considering the evidence it received the committee decided that Lowestoft should be included in the further draft proposals for Suffolk, so no change is proposed to the current external boundaries of the county.

Max Caller, chair 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.'

However, the proposals have come under fire from leaders of three Suffolk councils who have accused the committee of ignoring the views of local people in not supporting calls for three separate unitary authorities in the county.

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council; John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council; and Geoffrey Jaggard, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said today: 'It has always been clear that moving Lowestoft in to Norfolk was a ridiculous idea and the Boundary Committee have finally wised up to that. However, we are shocked that in the face of clear public support for the inclusion of our proposals the committee has brazenly ignored the public's desire for a proper consultation on a local government system which would be focused on areas each with their own, very different identities and economies.'

The three councils will now consider their next move.

'We now call on the Secretary of State to intervene and instruct the Boundary Committee to consult on all viable options including East, West and the greater Ipswich. We will, meanwhile, take all actions necessary to ensure that local people have their say on all options.'

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said: 'We are delighted that the Boundary Committee listened to the very clear message that Lowestoft is a valued part of our county, and will remain so.

'Suffolk County Council remains firmly committed to the single unitary option for the whole county, because this is the right option to protect the future of vital services in our county. In fact 'one Suffolk' is now given equal mention in the new consultation proposals.'

The consultation lasts until May 14. Responses to the draft proposals can be made by filling in an online form at www.boundarycommittee.org.uk or writing to Review Manager (Norfolk and Suffolk Reviews), The Boundary Committee for England, Trevelyan House, Great Peter Street, London, SW1P 2HW.