Suffolk councils may still be split

TWO alternative visions of local authorities in Suffolk were today waiting on the desk of government minister John Denham.

TWO alternative visions of local authorities in Suffolk were today waiting on the desk of government minister John Denham.

The Boundary Committee for England eventually published two alternative proposals for Suffolk local authorities:

- “One Suffolk” with a single council running all services in the county.

- “North Haven” with an Ipswich/Felixstowe authority running services in the south east of the county and a rural council running all other services in Suffolk.


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However speculation was mounting that the secretary of state could throw out both options - especially as the committee's recommendation for Norfolk was for a single council running all services from Great Yarmouth to Kings Lynn.

The publication of the recommendations was delayed earlier this year by an ultimately unsuccessful legal challenge by three Suffolk councils who wanted to see an east/west split considered.

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Now council taxpayers from Suffolk Coastal, St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath could be left with a bill for more than �200,000 in legal costs.

This is not the final decision - Mr Denham will have the final say.

And he is expected to announce his decision early in the New Year - or possibly even earlier.

Speculation is mounting in local authorities that he could throw out the proposals and opt for an Ipswich/ Suffolk split to go along with a Norwich/Norfolk split north of the Waveney.

The timescale for the change is still uncertain - if there is to be a wholesale change to local government the elections for the new authorities would probably need to be held a year before they come into operation.

That could mean elections in May 2010 for the new authorities, with the new members acting as “shadow councillors” until their new bodies come into operation in May 2011.

But the whole process could be derailed if the Tories win the general election - they have already warned that the cost of reorganisation could be too high to escape the spending cuts they expect to introduce within weeks of taking power.

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