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Local council review expected by summer

PUBLISHED: 14:21 28 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:31 03 July 2010

A controversial overhaul of councils in Norfolk and Suffolk will be split into four stages - with the draft proposals of how future local authorities could look ready by the summer.

A controversial overhaul of councils in Norfolk and Suffolk will be split into four stages - with the draft proposals of how future local authorities could look ready by the summer.

That was the message from the independent Boundary Committee which set out its timetable for a structural review of local authorities.

The committee, which spent about two hours meeting Norfolk council leaders and chief executives at Norwich City Hall this week, is tasked with looking at whether the current system of county and district councils could be replaced by one-size-fits all unitary authorities.

Councils can submit any “concepts” for new councils during stage one, between March 3 and April 11. The decree from government to look at unitaries for Norwich, Ipswich and a combined Yarmouth and Waveney, though a trigger for change, is not a “cornerstone” of the review.

Councils were asked if they wanted to review their submissions following the inclusion of a potential cross-border tie-up between Yarmouth and Waveney.

Finance officers from all relevant councils will be interviewed during phase two, which runs until July 4, to gauge whether bids are likely to stack up. The views of “stakeholders”, including other public bodies, will also be sought.

The second half, which concludes on December 19, will see the onset of a public consultation on the proposals, though it is still not clear how much sway that will hold in the final decision. Ministers will then be handed the committee's final recommendations by December 31.

Harry Humphrey, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “Since the Boundary Committee has to advise whether any Yarmouth/Waveney option could meet the five criteria for acceptance and be part of any all-Norfolk/Suffolk solution, clearly we will want to make a considered response on this question,” he said.

“So we will do so before April 11 as part of any further review of the concept we have submitted so far.”

Max Caller, chairman of the Boundary Committee, said: “We look forward to working closely with the councils and people of Norfolk to identify the most effective unitary solutions for the area.”

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