Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Unitary structure costs revealed

Great Yarmouth, Picture by Mike Page
One abandoned option was to merge Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft

The cost of changing local government in Norfolk from two tiers to one or two unitary authorities has been published.

The Boundary Committee for England claims the estimated cost of setting up a single unitary authority is £42.1m but could produce savings of £71.5m.

The costs would take about three years to recover.

If two unitary authorities were set up based on Greater Norwich and Rural Norfolk the cost would be £64.7m with savings of £83.7m.

However, the Greater Norwich authority would need to share some savings with Rural Norfolk for both to be able to cover their costs.

It is estimated that it would take about four years to recover this cost.

The committee said that it will not be necessary to increase the average council tax in Norfolk as a result of the change to unitary local government.

The actual levels of council tax will be decided by the new authorities.

Views wanted

Archie Gall, director of the Boundary Committee, said: "Councils in the county provided us with the figures we needed to come up with this information.

"Our independent financial consultants carried out an analysis of those numbers.

"The Secretary of State will make a decision whether or not to implement patterns of unitary local government here.

"If she chooses to do that, it will be up to any new body to organise its own finances.

"That includes decisions about what council tax might be. We've published a synopsis of the detailed analysis carried out by our independent financial consultants.

"We're keen to hear what people in the county think of the potential affordability of our further draft proposals, as well as views on other aspects of the proposals."

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