Unitary election date by end of year

A DECISION on the election date for selecting a new unitary authority for Ipswich is likely to be taken by the end of the year, The Evening Star has learned.

A DECISION on the election date for selecting a new unitary authority for Ipswich is likely to be taken by the end of the year, The Evening Star has learned.

After being picked back July as one of several authorities to be granted home rule, as of 2009 Ipswich will be responsible for a number of key services currently provided by Suffolk County Council.

However the transition to a new authority has been plunged into controversy after it emerged the ruling administration is seeking to have the elections held in 2009, once the unitary authority has been set up.

Opponents want a May 2008 election, arguing a delay would hand a huge advantage to the Tory-led administration and mean 16 councillors serving a year of unelected office.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said responses to the consultation are currently being considered.

The final decision on the date of the election will be made by the Secretary of State Hazel Blears.

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The spokeswoman said: “To decide the date of an election there would need to be an order laid down in parliament and that is expected to take place before the end of the year.”

Meanwhile any lingering thoughts that there may be a legal challenge to Ipswich's unitary bid have been dealt a blow by news that a judicial review of a similar unitary bid in Shrewsbury has found in favour of the Secretary of State.

Suffolk County Council had previously ruled out talk of a legal challenge but said it would be keeping a close eye on the outcome.

n.What do you think of the election controversy? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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