Wednesday, February 10

Norfolk stays local after Labour bottles unitary

Communities and councils across Norfolk were up in arms about a single unitary council governing services across the county. And the Tories said they'd overturn it anyway if, sorry when, they win the election.

So today Local Government Minister Rosie Winterton decided it was a no-brainer and ruled it out anyway.

"Across Norfolk we listened carefully to the views of interested councils, MPs and other stakeholders and the option of a unitary structure for the whole of Norfolk did not have sufficient support from key councils," she said.

"As a result the Government had no option but to rule out a unitary auithority for the whole of Norfolk, as it could not succeed without local support."

Turnip Taliban hearts were warmed by the Keep Norfolk Local campaign, run by five district councils. They hit the nail on the head and refused to give up.

Nick Daubney, leader of King's Lynn and West Norfolk Council, said the decision was "a total vindication" of their stance.

"The Secretary of State's decision informs our view that the Boundary Committee consistently failed to listen to the people of Norfolk, who have overwhelmingly backed the retention of their local council," he said.

Notwithstanding the damage thousands of job losses would do to the local economy, the so-called financial savings were nothing more than a red herring - you wouldn't get your bins emptied more often, there wouldn't be more money to spend on gritting the roads and your council tax would not have gone down had this gone through, make no mistake about that.

Meanwhile, Norwich City Council has also been given the go-ahead to run services in the city as a unitary council.

Turnips will find it hard to get too worked up about this, bearing in mind the Tory pledge to scrap any unitaries in the pipeline.

The county council has already said it plans to mount a legal challenge.

Wonder what this ill-fated exercise has already cost taxpayers, with all the miilions spent on preserving the status quo.

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