No county rebellion to unitary decision

COUNTY chiefs have ruled out making a legal challenge to reverse the decision to grant Ipswich home rule, it can be revealed today.

COUNTY chiefs have ruled out making a legal challenge to reverse the decision to grant Ipswich home rule, it can be revealed today.

As part of a government initiative offering authorities the chance of unitary status, Ipswich was one of nine authorities granted the opportunity to shape its own destiny last month.

The decision means almost all local government functions will be handled by the borough council by 2009 instead of being split between the borough council and county council.

Suffolk County Council staunchly opposed Ipswich's unitary bid and news that legal challenges are in the pipeline elsewhere in the country prompted speculation that bosses at Endeavour House could be considering similar action.

However sources have told The Evening Star the idea is a non-starter and the authority is focusing on the smooth handover of power.

Publicly the authority has refused to rule out a legal challenge stating it is “aware” of other challenges and will be “watching them with interest”, but it is understood the process would be too lengthy and costly to interest county bosses.

Most Read

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We want to leave a strong legacy of public service in Ipswich and look after the staff at Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council.”

Despite being given the thumbs up to go-ahead with becoming a unitary authority, Ipswich is still waiting on passing a final test before the deal is sealed.

Out of nine authorities earmarked to become unitary in two years time, four, including Ipswich, have been asked to undertake further work and submit more information to prove the “financial viability” of the bid.

A final decision will then be taken once the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health (LGPIH) Bill, which was passed through the House of Commons on May 22 is enacted.

Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council are currently working to provide the relevant information.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter