Boundary shake up on the cards

SUFFOLK'S political map looks set to be redrawn within just two years after Whitehall signalled a massive shake-up of local government.Suffolk County Council and the seven district authorities all face abolition after the Boundary Committee was given the go-ahead yesterday to revamp the structure.

SUFFOLK'S political map looks set to be redrawn within just two years after Whitehall signalled a massive shake-up of local government.

Suffolk County Council and the seven district authorities all face abolition after the Boundary Committee was given the go-ahead yesterday to revamp the structure.

Local Government Minister John Healey has made it clear all options are on the table, including a Greater Ipswich and a cross-border Waveney and Great Yarmouth authority.

Although the minister said he would not direct the Boundary Committee on any solution, if there is to be unitary government in the county it is likely to be based on Greater Ipswich, Suffolk rural, and Waveney-Yartoft all-purpose councils.

However, he gave the assurance that the plans had to have community support, leaving open the option of bringing in either a unitary for the whole county or keeping the status quo.

Mr Healey said that once the independent report was received at the end of the year, he would make a decision which might not be necessarily the same as the advice from the Boundary Committee.

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Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, said he welcomed an independent review of local government structures but voiced concern over the timescale to carry out the work.

He said: “What really matters is not structures but people and strong, affordable services.

“I have concerns that enough time is being given to properly address this challenge. The timetable is at best heroic. “We had 21 months to prepare for a unitary Ipswich before the government changed its mind.

“Now we are being given less time to do even more work - 15 months to implement the committee's findings. I believe that the best solution will be found within the boundary of Suffolk and that that boundary must not be crossed.”

In July last year, ministers gave a preliminary go-ahead to an Ipswich unitary, but withdrew the plan because it wasn't financially viable.