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Now Great Yarmouth could be in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 17:34 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:49 03 July 2010

UNITED: One idea could bring Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth together under a Norfolk coastal unitary authority creating a conundrum over which county the towns will go in.

UNITED: One idea could bring Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth together under a Norfolk coastal unitary authority creating a conundrum over which county the towns will go in.

THE latest round of suggestions for a new local government set-up for the area includes a “which county?” conundrum.

It has been claimed a new Yartoft unitary authority could throw up a quandary - should Great Yarmouth become Suffolk, or Lowestoft join Norfolk?

The Boundary Committee is currently canvassing views about a tie-up between the towns and creating a new unitary authority by combining services currently provided by Waveney and Yarmouth councils and the county council as part of a far reaching review of town halls in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Lowestoft Southbeach

THE latest round of suggestions for a new local government set-up for the area includes a “which county?” conundrum.

It has been claimed a new Yartoft unitary authority could throw up a quandary - should Great Yarmouth become Suffolk, or Lowestoft join Norfolk?

The Boundary Committee is currently canvassing views about a tie-up between the towns and creating a new unitary authority by combining services currently provided by Waveney and Yarmouth councils and the county council as part of a far reaching review of town halls in Norfolk and Suffolk.

But County Hall has warned any new Yartoft council would have to be either wholly in Norfolk or Suffolk for civic purposes.

Council leader Daniel Cox, said: “The fact that creating a cross-boundary unitary will involve Norfolk residents in Yarmouth becoming residents of Suffolk, or vice versa, has not been widely appreciated until now, but it's high time that the issue is fully aired and debated.

“The issue of how strongly local people identify with Norfolk should not be taken lightly - and I suspect people living in Suffolk will have a similar point of view about their affinity with their own county.

The joining of Yarmouth and Lowestoft councils is backed by both town's Labour MPs's, the Labour groups on both councils, and the Primary Care Trust, which covers both areas.

However, a report by county council chief executive David White said the idea was found wanting in a number of areas including value for money, lack of stakeholder support and “uniquely high” transition costs.

And he said it would be open to question where the civic heart of a Yartoft council would be because it would see an authority created in Norfolk which contains all or part of Waveney, or an authority created in Suffolk which contains all or part of Yarmouth while for ceremonial purposes any new cross-border authority would need to be part of either Norfolk or Suffolk.

“While Yarmouth and Lowestoft have much in common, there are also clear separate interests and identities between the towns, for example, opposition from port interests in Lowestoft to the new outer harbour at Yarmouth,” he said.

Yarmouth Conservatives favour a Norfolk Coastal authority - which doesn't include Lowestoft, but instead takes in the area from Yarmouth up into North Norfolk, and includes Cromer.

But now there's another spanner in the works: a late contender has emerged out of a meeting of Norfolk authorities that a Norfolk coastal unitary authority, bringing together Yarmouth and North Norfolk, could be extended even further to include Lowestoft.

The idea has found favour in Breckland Council, with Norfolk coastal and South Norfolk councils wrapping themselves around the Norwich unitary.

Tim Leeder, deputy chief executive of Breckland Council, said the logic of an extended Norfolk coastal stemmed from feedback from the Boundary Committee which led them to believe that any proposal should address the secretary of state's requirement to take into account the Yartoft option.

He said: “Simply throwing Lowestoft and Yarmouth together on their own would not be sensible as there are immense problems in both towns and a small authority would not have the capacity to solve them.

“However there would probably be merit in bringing Lowestoft into a Norfolk coastal and that would be worth exploring.”

Mr Leeder said it was unclear whether any consensus on the merits of the new plan could be reached among Norfolk authorities before they make their final submission to the Boundary Committee today.

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