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Unitary team plan

PUBLISHED: 08:59 11 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:00 30 June 2010

City Hall leaders last night recommended a cross-party team to set up the new unitary authority for Norwich.

Under plans approved by the city executive, an implementation panel made up of 18 councillors - 12 from the city council and six from Norfolk County Council - could be tasked with drawing up what the new authority should look like.

City Hall leaders last night recommended a cross-party team to set up the new unitary authority for Norwich.

Under plans approved by the city executive, an implementation panel made up of 18 councillors - 12 from the city council and six from Norfolk County Council - could be tasked with drawing up what the new authority should look like.

Creating the new council is still subject to parliamentary approval and could be blocked by the House of Lords or a legal challenge by the county council.

The blueprint for the team was approved by the city executive last night in a bid to ensure that

action can begin as soon as the

final decision is made, but the

county council declined to move forward with its side until the final decision has been made in parliament.

If the authority does get the green light, the implementation team will need to be up and running within 21 days in order to make sure the process of creating the council can be completed within the tight 12-month schedule.

The plans will now go forward

to a full council meeting on

March 30 for final approval,

but if the new council has not been approved, the plans will remain in draft form and no nominations will be made.

If the scheme goes ahead, there will be six Labour councillors, four Greens, one Liberal Democrat and one Conservative.

The six county councillors would be three Greens and one each for Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives.

It is likely that the panel would meet once a week and members would receive extra allowances due to the high workload.

Meanwhile, the twisted unitary saga was embroiled in more confusion yesterday as the Conservatives claimed the government had got cold feet on the issue.

A new council will be created by a government order known as a 'statutory instrument' once it has been debated in both houses of parliament.

But the Tories seized on the fact that there was no mention of the orders on a letter listing the statutory instruments coming through parliament as proof

the government was “running scared”.

Bob Neill, shadow minister for local government, said: “This is yet another sign of disarray from Labour ministers over their botched plans to re-arrange the deckchairs of local government.

“This is the political embodiment of the law of diminishing returns - day by day, the credibility of Labour ministers shrinks in size.

“This uncertainty and delay is hugely damaging to local councils; the government should listen to their own civil servants and cancel this expensive and counter-productive restructuring.”

But a CLG spokeswoman insisted: “The draft orders for Exeter and Norwich have categorically not been withdrawn. The parliamentary committee (Joint Committee for Statutory Instruments) started its consideration of these statutory orders last week, as is normal procedure, and will be concluding them shortly.

“Ministers took their decisions having reached a considered view that these unitary proposals had clear support in Exeter and

Norwich, would promote economic growth and are in the best interests of local people.

“It is right that this is considered

by Parliament, and ministers

are preparing for and looking forward to the forthcoming debates that will conclude its parliamentary passage.”

However, any delay is sure to add to the already tight timetable for getting the orders through parliament before a general election is called.


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