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New twist in council shake-up

PUBLISHED: 10:13 03 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:34 03 July 2010

THE long-running saga over who should run council services in Norfolk has taken yet another detour with the Court of Appeal set to be the stage for the latest test.

THE long-running saga over who should run council services in Norfolk has taken yet another detour with the Court of Appeal set to be the stage for the latest test.

The Boundary Committee was set to present its recommendations to the government earlier this month on whether there should be a new unitary authority for the whole county or two separate unitary authorities for greater Norwich and a rural council for the rest of Norfolk.

But that decision was put on hold after three Suffolk district councils made a successful legal challenge kicking similar proposals for that county into touch.

The committee announced on Friday that it had launched an appeal against the Suffolk challenge - and that means an announcement on Norfolk will continue to be up in the air until that has been heard at the Court of Appeal.

A spokesman said: “The committee believes an appeal is necessary to achieve clarity on the way forward for its local government review, and will be pressing for the appeal to be heard as quickly as possible.”

It will now be up to the Court of Appeal to fix a date for the hearing but until then the recommendations on Norfolk and Devon, which is also subject to a similar review, will not be announced.

That will frustrate Norwich City Council, which has spent £1.3m on its bid to take on responsibility for services such social services and education, but fuel hopes among the Conservative-run district councils that the delays will see any unitary move swept away by a Tory victory at the next general election.

Steve Morphew, leader of Labour-controlled Norwich City Council, said: “It is a pity that, having won the argument to justify doing it and after the initial investment which will save so much money at a time when it is so difficult for local authorities, we are mired in reviews which bear very little relationship to the real world.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said that once it was clear when the appeal would be determined the committee would be given a new deadline to make its recommendations for Norfolk.

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