Unitary breakthrough: Ipswich makes list

IPSWICH has been put on the short list for the towns bidding for unitary status, making it just one of 16 contenders nationwide.

IPSWICH has been put on the short list for towns bidding for unitary status.

Local government minister Phil Woolas today announced that sixteen councils bidding for unitary status have been short listed to go forward for consultation today.

The move would give Ipswich Borough Council control of all services in the town, including those currently operated by Suffolk County Council.

Information coming from the government suggests the town is now in a strong position to be granted full unitary status when the final decision is announced in July.

Mr Woolas said: "These changes can potentially save up to £204m per annum for front line services and reduce council tax too.

"The bids that local authorities submitted show that they are up for improving the services they offer to their communities by making them more responsive, effective and efficient. We have been impressed by their quality, value for money and their cross section of support which is why we can now go much further and proceed to the next stage in thirteen areas."

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Opponents of the move claim the changes will waste money and lead to unnecessary duplication of services.

Elsewhere in the region, Norwich City Council was also put on the short list to run its own affairs and the Government accepted rival bids from Bedfordshire County Council and Bedford Borough Council to create super councils for either the whole county or just the town.

The Government will now hold a 12-week consultation on the changes before a final decision is made in July. If approved, the new arrangements could be in place by April 2009.