Home rule could cost millions

HOME rule for Ipswich would cost households across Suffolk millions of pounds and leave them with worse services, county bosses warned today.But their comments were immediately branded misleading by the leader of Ipswich council - which is bidding for unitary status which would mean taking over many powers from the county.

By Paul Geater

HOME rule for Ipswich would cost households across Suffolk millions of pounds and leave them with worse services, county bosses warned today.

But their comments were immediately branded misleading by the leader of Ipswich council - which is bidding for unitary status which would mean taking over many powers from the county.

Suffolk County Council leader Jeremy Pembroke delivered a double broadside at Ipswich's bid for unitary status by claiming a successful bid would lead to a duplication in resources.


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He said: “You would find a separate education department and social services department having to be set up in the two offices just a few feet apart in Russell Road.

“If we lost the money from Ipswich, our income would go down 18.5 per cent. However our costs would not go down by that amount.

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“We would either have to put up council taxes or cut services. That is our principle objection to the unitary bid.”

He said the county would continue to oppose the unitary bid even though all the councillors from the town were in favour of it.

Mr Pembroke said: “We are representing the people of Ipswich, not the interest of a few councillors who want to increase their own powers.”

However borough leader Liz Harsant felt that comment was disgraceful. She said: “I don't know any councillors who just want to improve their position. In fact some of the councillors know that by supporting the move they are signalling the end of their own political careers.

“And if it was going to be so expensive, how come our bid was approved after days of careful scrutiny by the Treasury and other civil servants in London.

“Ruth Kelly (Communities Secretary) has said that unitary government can be the cheaper option - and we have had to prove that our bid offers good value for money to council taxpayers.”

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