Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Court rules on unitary proposals

Map showing authority boundaries
New unitary authorities for Suffolk are being proposed

Consultation on proposals to introduce unitary authorities in Norfolk and Suffolk will go on, despite opponents securing a court victory.

A number of authorities in Norfolk had argued the Boundary Committee's consultation process on potential changes was not thorough enough.

The Court of Appeal agreed, but new proposals unveiled by the Committee last week are now under consultation.

A recommendation will be made to the Secretary of State on 15 July.

The councils which brought the challenge argued not enough people had been consulted over the plans and consultation documents were not easy enough to understand.

'Adapted the process'

They were awarded a third of their legal costs, with the judge ruling that aspects of the process needed to be changed.

However the Boundary Committee says it has now revised its proposals and is consulting more widely.

In a statement, it said: "Where we have needed to, we have adapted our process to ensure we have complied with judgments from the courts.

"That's why we published further draft proposals last week."

The revised proposals for Norfolk suggest one "super" council for Norfolk or a two-tier system with two unitary councils - one for Norwich, the other for the rest of Norfolk.

The judges have acknowledged that the Boundary Committee has simply not consulted adequately with the people of Norfolk and will now have to do so
Nick Daubney

Previously the boundary committee was suggesting Lowestoft in Suffolk could be included under the jurisdiction of a new single unitary authority for the whole of Norfolk.

The two new proposals would still see the abolition of King's Lynn, Breckland, Broadland, South Norfolk and North Norfolk Councils.

In Suffolk, one revised option would put Ipswich and Felixstowe under one authority and the rest of the county under another.

The other would see a single authority for the whole county with its existing boundaries.

Responding to the court's decision, Nick Daubney, leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, said: "The judges' ruling thoroughly discredits the Boundary Committee's ham-fisted handling of the review of local government in Norfolk."

"The judges have acknowledged that the Boundary Committee has simply not consulted adequately with the people of Norfolk and will now have to do so."



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