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Council website spend probed

PUBLISHED: 08:28 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:26 03 July 2010

FIVE district councils in the county - including Broadland and North Norfolk - are to be investigated by a government watchdog over the set up of a website which protests against plans for local government reorganisation.

FIVE district councils in the county - including Broadland and North Norfolk - are to be investigated by a government watchdog over the set up of a website which protests against plans for local government reorganisation.

The council's along with Breckland, King's Lynn and West Norfolk, and South Norfolk - launched the Keep Norfolk Local website last month with the help of London-based PR firm Freshwater.

The campaign, which could cost up to £75,000, was aimed at halting a controversial review by the Boundary Committee looking into unitary government.

But now it could be in hot water if the Audit Commission judges its content in breach of the code of conduct on council-run publicity campaigns which states that publicity “should be objective, balanced, informative and accurate.”

Three options for a proposed overhaul of local government in Norfolk were put on the table by the Boundary Committee; a “wedge” authority covering Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Norwich, a “doughnut” option of greater Norwich and the rest of the county; and a super council covering the whole of Norfolk, currently favoured by the committee.

Among claims made on the website are that proposals for a super-council would result in “sucking jobs away from rural areas across Norfolk and see them centralised in a new, massive bureaucratic council headquarters. Pouring money into Norwich will bleed funding out of the rest of the county,” it said.

Last night Broadland council said it was going to seek changes to the website because of concerns that the content had been oversimplified.

But the other four insisted they had done nothing wrong and there was no breach.

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