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Unitary plans attacked

PUBLISHED: 09:01 19 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:21 30 June 2010

Cross-party Norfolk MPs and peers yesterday met the Minister for Local Government, Rosie Winterton MP, to discuss the proposals for reorganising local government in Norfolk.

Cross-party Norfolk MPs and peers yesterday met the Minister for Local Government, Rosie Winterton MP, to discuss the proposals for reorganising local government in Norfolk.

A consultation period on the proposals ends today.

The independent Boundary Committee ruled in December that a single unitary authority was the best option for the future, though communities secretary John Denham, who is set to give his verdict in February, could decide to do nothing or revive a previously-rejected option to grant a unitary council for Norwich alone.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who organised yesterday's meeting, commented: “It is vital that the government listens to local people in this process and we as Norfolk MPs put across all the many views expressed to us about this proposal for reorganisation.

“Most people who have been in touch with me about the idea think that this is a costly waste of money at a tight economic time. What's there already works well enough. These plans for change are half-baked despite having been dragged on for many months and years now.

“The other unitary councils around the country that this government has forced through are not successful.

“We told the minister plainly: the proposal would be a disaster. No-one wants it, yet no-one has been formally consulted on it. No one thinks it will improve local democracy in a county as large and diverse as Norfolk.

“No-one in their right mind thinks it can be afforded.”

The Norfolk contingent was made up of Chloe Smith, Richard Bacon, Keith Simpson, Norman Lamb, Baroness Shephard and Lord MacGregor.


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