Mole fears unitary blow-out

IPSWICH'S MP has today revealed fears the proposed unitary shake-up will prove a wasted opportunity leading to no change.A decision on the likelihood of a new council - dubbed 'North Haven' - covering Ipswich, Felixstowe and surrounding areas, is due in just three weeks' time, on February 13.

IPSWICH'S MP has today revealed fears the proposed unitary shake-up will prove a wasted opportunity leading to no change.

A decision on the likelihood of a new council - dubbed 'North Haven' - covering Ipswich, Felixstowe and surrounding areas, is due in just three weeks' time, on February 13.

The Boundary Committee announcement could support the North Haven option or may opt to back one of several others including bolstering Suffolk County Council by making it a unitary authority.

However Labour MP for Ipswich, Chris Mole, said he believes the status quo will remain.

He told The Evening Star that unless the Boundary Committee comes up with a fresh suggestion for improving local government in Suffolk, ministers will not see a compelling case for change.

“My suspicion is that if they [the Boundary Committee] stick with what was previously on the table, ministers won't be keen to take it on board,” Mr Mole said.

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“I think the North Haven proposal, for want of a better name, doesn't seem really to have caught anybody's enthusiasm.

“I am aware of a lot of Ipswich people who say they don't really want to be in a bigger authority with rural areas down to the Essex border.

“My sense is that it is not meeting anyone's requirements.

“No change is the most likely outcome because I can't see a unitary Suffolk particularly meeting a sense of place and identity, certainly as far as the people of Suffolk are concerned.

“I'm sure ministers will understand that and reject it.”

Mr Mole had previously backed proposals for home rule in Ipswich which were controversially shelved in December 2007 amid claims it would prove too expensive.

Central government initially gave a unitary bid by Ipswich a preliminary green light in July 2007, however, at the last hurdle Hazel Blears, secretary of state for communities and local government, decided that the finances did not stack up.

A final decision on the latest proposals will be taken by central government after boundary chiefs' recommendations have been considered.

The preferred option of boundary chiefs proposes two unitary councils - North Haven, incorporating

Ipswich and Felixstowe, and Rural Suffolk, made up of the remainder of the county, minus Lowestoft.

A second option is also on the table - a single unitary Suffolk council.

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