Leave our borough, say Tories

Laura Bagshaw TORY councillors in the borough of Great Yarmouth will fight plans to carve up the county and create unitary authorities, insisting: “If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Laura Bagshaw

TORY councillors in the borough of Great Yarmouth will fight plans to carve up the county and create unitary authorities, insisting: “If it's not broke, don't fix it.”

Council leader Barry Coleman said Conservatives across the county would be mounting political pressure on ministers who, at the end of this year, will decide how to change the area's present two-tier system of borough/district and county councils.

As part of a major review of local government, the Boundary Committee has ordered councils to explore three options. These include:

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A single unitary body covering all of Norfolk and including Lowestoft.

A “wedge” option that includes Yarmouth and Lowestoft, Norwich and some Broadland areas.

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A “doughnut”, which would see a Norwich unitary being created and a second unitary authority covering the rest of the county.

While the “status quo” option of leaving things as they are has not been formally put on the table by the Boun-dary Committee, Mr Coleman said the Conservative Party would make it clear to ministers that the two-tier system remained the best option for Yarmouth. He said: “We think if it's not broke, don't fix it. It's an expensive exercise with doubtful prospects.”

The borough council is looking at the three options put on the table by the Boundary Committee. Both the Tories and Labour think the “doughnut” would be the worst option for Yarm-outh, fearing it would be marginalised.

Mr Coleman said that, under sufferance, most Conservative coun-cillors believed the “wedge” option would be best for Yarmouth, although the county option was still possible.

He added: “We can't keep all our eggs in one basket - we have to be realistic.

“But I think the option of status quo is more realistic now than it was a few months ago.”

And Mr Coleman said he felt for the thousands of council employees in the region whose lives had been put on hold because of the review. “It is a great concern. We are not playing political monopoly: we are playing with people's livelihoods,” he said.

Labour believes the “wedge” option is best for Yarmouth, arguing that it is most likely to provide a continued profile for regeneration. Group leader Mick Castle said continued regen-eration over the past 15 years and developments such as the outer harbour had put Yarmouth in a good position against places such as Norwich. A “wedge” authority would see Yarmouth being represented by about 18 councillors, while Lowestoft would have about 16 and greater Norwich would have 45. “Certainly the towns together would have a fair amount of the wedge,” said Mr Castle.

Yarmouth's borough Labour group had originally wanted a “Yartoft” unitary body linking the two coastal towns, and Mr Castle said it was important that the towns could still have the chance to work together as part of a wedge authority.

“The chance to work with Lowestoft is important, and the Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust could be reorganised to include most of the areas of this new authority,” he said.

Jane Ratcliffe, executive director of resources at the borough council, is inviting Mercury readers to contact her with their views about the proposed changes. Email jratcliffe@

great-yarmouth.gov.uk or write to her at: Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Town Hall, Hall Plain, Great Yarmouth, NR30 2QF.

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