Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Councils claim restructure snub

Map showing authority boundaries
Three new unitary authorities in Suffolk are being proposed

Three councils that submitted a new structure for local government in Suffolk have written to the secretary of state to complain of a snub.

Waveney, Forest Heath and Bury St Edmunds councils proposed a unitary structure covering the east, west and north havens of the county.

They have told secretary Hazel Blears they do not believe the Boundary Committee took their ideas seriously.

The committee told them not to incur expense but consider existing ideas.

The letter to the minister from the leaders of the three councils was in response to a letter from the Boundary Committee received before Christmas.

This letter said: "The Boundary Committee made clear its approach to meeting local authorities during Stage Three and thereafter.

"We outlined from the publication of our draft proposal that the committee was committed to meeting those authorities who wished to discuss the patterns outlined in the report.

"The committee met representatives from Forest Heath, St Edmundsbury and Waveney on two occasions during Stage Three, together with representatives from all local authorities in Suffolk.

"The committee decided at the outset of the review that it would not ask for workbooks (detailed proposals) to be completed for all concepts received.

"This reflects the guidance from the Secretary of State that local authorities should not incur significant expense."

Ready to meet

The leaders of the three councils, Geoffrey Jaggard (Forest Heath), John Griffiths (St Edmundsbury) and Mark Bee (Waveney), believe they have "clear evidence the committee has no intention of taking seriously the proposal for an east, west and north haven structure for unitary local government in Suffolk".

A letter they have received "indicates an unwillingness on the part of the Boundary Committee to do any work to examine the economic sense, financial viability and public popularity of the option".

"The letter itself undermines the committee's claim to have looked at the options on an equitable basis.

"We trust that you share our concerns about the process and we would be willing to provide a further briefing to you in writing and in person on the alternatives," they conclude.

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