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North Norfolk council could be lost

PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 July 2008 | UPDATED: 12:44 20 May 2010

North Norfolk could lose its local council in two years time, and be controlled by super-sized authority covering all of the county, and a bit of Suffolk too.

North Norfolk could lose its local council in two years time, and be controlled by super-sized authority covering all of the county, and a bit of Suffolk too.

The long-awaited announcement of the Boundary Committee's shake-up of local councils saw them this week announce an option that surprised everyone.

Current district councils would be scrapped and replaced by a body in charge of the whole of Norfolk, and with Lowestoft tacked on from Suffolk.

Not all the decision-making would be made in a central headquarters however, as there are plans for five areas dealing with issues such as planning and licensing, as well as 21 community partnership boards each centred on one or two market towns.

However while North Norfolk people are currently represented by 11 county and 48 district councillors, who each look after about 2,000 people, under the new set there would be just 15 councillors with 7,000 constituents each.

Local reaction was one of surprise and unhappiness at the size of the proposed council.

District council leader Virginia Gay said: “Not only would this be bad for democracy, it makes no real sense as far as efficiency is concerned, either. In fact the whole proposal lacks logical argument.”

The new council - for more than 900,000 people and far bigger than other unitary authorities already created - was so large it threw up concerns about democratic accountability and community identity.

By the government's own guidelines, a council over 500,000 would see its performance start to decline, and yet the Boundary Committee was proposing something almost twice as large.

“This would be a travesty of local democracy, even more unrepresentative than any of the original submissions to the Boundary Committee and it flies in the face of everything that the Government has been saying about the engagement of local communities,” she added.

The council would be considering the proposal carefully during a consultation to the end of September and talking to other authorities and local people before responding formally

Officials felt however that the district council headquarters at Cromer, where most of its 320 staff work, was well-placed as a possible area administration office if the proposed new set-up went ahead.

AREAS

The five areas within the unitary set up would look at planning, licensing and scrutiny issues, with an area member sitting on the unitary cabinet.

North Norfolk's district council area would be expanded to take in other parts of Norfolk including the catchment areas of the Reepham, Litcham and Dereham high schools.

COMMUNITY BOARDS

Community Partnership Boards would have delegated budgets, a “place-shaping” role, and members drawn from the unitary council, parish and town councils, along with other statutory bodies and the voluntary sector.

The ones proposed for North Norfolk are:

Acle, Brundall and Wroxham

Aylsham

Cromer

Fakenham

Holt, Sheringham and Wells

North Walsham and Stalham


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