Local Government Review debate continues

THE future direction for local government for Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth came firmly under the spotlight this week as more new developments on the saga were revealed and political positions firmly stated.

THE future of services for Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth came firmly under the spotlight this week as more new twists in the saga of possible local government reform came to light.

Waveney District Council announced the appointment of a new chief executive to succeed Glen Garrod. And four possible configurations of councils are now being touted in the big debate:

Waveney and Great Yarmouth forming a new unitary authority - the so called "Yartoft" option.

Waveney going in with Suffolk Coastal council, linking the working aspects of two district councils within the same county.

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Lowestoft and Yarmouth forming an authority without the market towns, which might then go into a Suffolk coastal authority.

Waveney linking with other councils in Suffolk.

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Labour poured scorn on Waveney council Tory leader Mark Bee's warning that linking with Yarmouth would mean the whole of Waveney being taken into the Norfolk boundary.

As Mr Bee announced that Stephen Baker, Suffolk Coastal's chief executive, had been appointed to run Waveney as well, leaders of both councils stressed that the present two-tier system of having a county council and district councils was the best way of providing locally-based frontline services at the best possible value for money.

Mr Bee has come under attack for promoting a Residents Against Yartoft (RAY) campaign - website www.waveneysaynoto

yartoft.com - that suggests the district could become part of Norfolk.

Julian Swainson, Labour leader of Suffolk County Council, accused Mr Bee of making "wild assertions and misleading claims" that aimed to scare people. He said: "Whatever the out-come of this local govern-ment review, Lowestoft, Beccles, Bungay, Hales-worth and even Southwold and Adnams Brewery will still be a part of Suffolk and we will all still have Suffolk as a proud part of our home address."

But Mr Bee quoted the document on the proposed changes issued by the government that states a new unitary authority combining Lowestoft and Yarmouth could be "absorbed" into the Norfolk unitary authorities. He added: "This is not scare-mongering but is a real possibility if the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth unitary authority is formed.

"I am concerned about the consequences of this link-up on a number of issues, including what would happen to the police forces in the two counties. If police officers in this Yartoft authority were to come under the administration of Norfolk Constabulary it would make the Suffolk force that much smaller and vulnerable to being absorbed into neighbour-ing police authorities."

Mr Bee said the enormous set-up costs of having unitary authorities in the two counties could be avoi-ded if the partnership being established between Wave-ney and Suffolk Coastal was seen as the way forward.

The Boundary Committee for England is conducting a structural review of local government in Suffolk and Norfolk.

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