Councillors favour Wedge option

CONSERVATIVE and Labour councillors have voted in favour of the “wedge” option as part of plans to overhaul local government structure in Norfolk.Great Yarmouth borough councillors from both parties debated the review on local government at Wednesday's cabinet meeting and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the “wedge” option which would see Yarmouth linked with Lowestoft, Norwich and parts of Broadland in a new unitary authority.

CONSERVATIVE and Labour councillors have voted in favour of the “wedge” option as part of plans to overhaul local government structure in Norfolk.

Great Yarmouth borough councillors from both parties debated the review on local government at Wednesday's cabinet meeting and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the “wedge” option which would see Yarmouth linked with Lowestoft, Norwich and parts of Broadland in a new unitary authority.

As part of a major review of local government in Norfolk and Suffolk - which will see the current two-tier system scrapped - the Boundary Committee for England had laid three options on the table including a single unitary covering Norfolk and including Lowestoft.

While the ruling Tory group ultimately favours the status quo the council has published a brief document outlining benefits a “wedge” authority would bring to Yarmouth - an option also supported by the council's Labour group.


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Deputy leader of the council Barry Stone said a “wedge” option would offer increased democratic accountability and better provision of council services.

He added: “My view is that with

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some adjustments to the boundaries that have been proposed in our brief

a 'wedge' option would be better

for the people of Yarmouth. A single unitary for Norfolk will effectively

be the county council with a few add ons.

“A 'wedge' will bring all the

benefits of a new authority including better provision of services, and there is potential advantage for improvements in health care and policing.”

Conservative councillors Charles Reynolds, Patricia Page and Gerry Cook voted against the “wedge” option, with Mr Reynolds arguing a single unitary authority would bring about more benefits.

Labour councillors also favour the “wedge” option, believing the authority would bring benefits in terms of economic development.

Group leader Mick Castle said if 90,000 had been a big enough population Yarmouth could have been in a unitary of its own. But he added: “In the real world sadly Yarmouth wasn't big enough to run all local services as the conventional wisdom was that at least 200,000 people would be needed in a new unitary to make economic sense.”

He said a council comprising Norwich, Yarmouth, Lowestoft and the Broadland hinterland, including Acle and Ludham, made a population of more than 400,000.

“This is sufficient enough for

people to feel that their big decisions are being taken locally,” said Mr Castle.

Today marks the deadline for councils in Norfolk to submit bids for their preferred options, and the Boundary Committee will examine those options and make recommendations to a government minister in December. A final decision is expected in February next year.

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