Police chief fears over unitary bid

HEALTH and police chiefs could stand in the way of Ipswich's bid to run its own services, it has emerged.Acting Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt has warned the move could introduce extra “levels of complexity” in delivering some services.

HEALTH and police chiefs could stand in the way of Ipswich's bid to run its own services, it has emerged.

Acting Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt has warned the move could introduce extra “levels of complexity” in delivering some services.

He was speaking as the county's police authority decided to tell the Government of its “significant concerns” about the bid.

And Suffolk Primary Care Trust is set to object to Ipswich Borough Council's push for independence after suggesting it could result in higher NHS management costs.

But Ipswich council leader Liz Harsant described the claims as unsubstantiated and “scaremongering”.

At the meeting of the police authority, Mr Langham-Fitt said on behalf of the constabulary: “We have said, as it has become an acrimonious debate in certain quarters, that we would not become involved in one side or another.

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“We have said whatever system is introduced we would work with it and we have tried to keep neutral.

“But in my professional opinion, I think that it will introduce levels of complexities.

“I have spoken to forces that have shires and unitaries mixed and some have said it does lead to duplication and uncertainty.”

He said his main concerns centred around the “most sensitive” and most risky services the police deliver in partnership with the county council - such as children's and drug services.

Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) also looks set to oppose Ipswich's bid to break-away from Suffolk County Council.

It fears it would result in higher NHS management costs and weaken the county-wide restructure and improvement plans of the health service.

However, it concedes a unitary authority for Ipswich could offer a greater opportunity to tackle health inequalities in the borough.

Mrs Harsant supported that view, and said she did not believe it would result in bigger NHS management bill.

Of the concerns about the bid, she said: “It is scaremongering. They haven't got any concrete evidence.”

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