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New unitary Norfolk authority opposed

PUBLISHED: 12:38 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:33 01 August 2010

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to govern Lowestoft within a new unitary Norfolk authority came under a fierce attack during a special meeting of councillors in the Waveney district.

CONTROVERSIAL proposals to govern Lowestoft within a new unitary Norfolk authority came under a fierce attack during a special meeting of councillors in the Waveney district.

Cross-party opposition to the Boundary Committee's recommendations was voiced during a two-hour debate, which ended with the passing of a motion setting out Waveney District Council's objections to Lowestoft linking up with Norfolk.

All political groups will now join forces to fight the proposals, although there remains a fundamental difference between the ruling Conservative group and the main opposition Labour party.

Council leader Mark Bee reiterated his view that, if the local government shake-up goes ahead, Lowestoft should be the main town in a new East Suffolk authority. However, Labour is still pushing for a smaller unitary covering Waveney and Yarmouth.

Mr Bee said he did not believe the public of Lowestoft wanted to be governed by a Norfolk council and urged them to stand up and make their voices heard.

The Boundary Committee's preferred option is for a Norfolk unitary council featuring Lowestoft, separate to a Suffolk-wide council excluding Ipswich and Felixstowe.

Mr Bee also spoke of concerns that moving the local government boundaries would lead to other services, such as the police, being provided in Lowestoft from Norfolk - effectively moving the town into a new county.

Councillors also raised fears that the economic wellbeing of the rest of Waveney would also be harmed - the market towns of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth are set to go into a Suffolk unitary authority without Lowestoft or Ipswich, and probably governed from Bury St Edmunds, if the current proposals are ratified.

Waveney's motion says that Lowestoft does not want to be administered from Norfolk, but the Labour group proposed an amendment asking for the council to restrict it to saying it simply objected to the Boundary Committee's proposals. This was because Labour still favours a cross-border council in the form of a joint Waveney and Yarmouth council; the amendment was voted down.

Labour leader Malcolm Cherry spoke out against the wider Norfolk proposal and Lib Dem group leader Andrew Shepherd said local decisions should be taken as close to the people they affect as possible.

The Boundary Committee's proposals are out for public consultation until September 26.

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