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Council reorganisation questioned

PUBLISHED: 09:45 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 03 July 2010

Norfolk peers raised questions about controversial plans to overhaul councils in the House of Lords yesterday.

This week the Boundary Committee put forward to government its preferred option of a single council for Norfolk, which would see the existing system of county and district councils scrapped.

Norfolk peers raised questions about controversial plans to overhaul councils in the House of Lords yesterday.

This week the Boundary Committee put forward to government its preferred option of a single council for Norfolk, which would see the existing system of county and district councils scrapped.

But Conservative peers Baroness Shephard and Lord MacGregor questioned the costs of the overhaul and said more time was needed to consider what was planned.

Labour peer and former Norwich City Council leader Baroness Hollis, who favours a greater Norwich option, said the existing system of four councils for a the wider city area was a mess, and said a clearly focused unitary structure made best sense for cities such as Norwich.

Lord MacGregor said it was wrong to propose a scheme because it would lead to “substantial short term increases in upfront costs” while the change would be implemented until after a general election.

“Given the Christmas and New Year break, it is wholly inappropriate to give such a short time for the responses for the local authorities concerned,” he added.

A final decision is due to be made following a six week consultation period due to end on January 19.

The Boundary Committee has been swayed by the single unitary case and the potential £25m-a-year savings and has also rejected a rival option for a greater Norwich council and a rural “rest of Norfolk” council because the financial case did not stack up and there was little support for it beyond the city.

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