Unitary status for Norwich is wrong by every measure

The plans submitted by Norwich City Council are wrong and actually reckless in their disregard for local communities, local democracy and financial probity.

Firstly, Norwich's bid is non compliant. Why ? Because they intend swallowing up parts of neighbouring Broadland and South Norfolk Council's. This is expressly precluded form any bid for Unitary Status, but already the government have said they will consider the bid. Why ? Is it because Norwich is currently Labour run or simply because this government has a flagrant disregard for its own rules.

Secondly, not a single "fringe parish" has accepted the need to be move in to Norwich. Indeed, all those parishes seem to be almost violently against the proposal. let me give you an example why.

In the case of Horsford, the village in which I was brought up, there is nobody yearning to be part of Norwich. They like their twin bin collection system (introduced in 1991, but something Norwich still does not have), and they like having their local schools which attract children from other villages too. However, if the plans go ahead, children living in Felthorpe, the next village, who go to school in Horsford, will no longer be able to because Felthorpe will be in a different education authority. Presumably some children will be totally uprooted and removed form the school if this goes ahead. What a disgrace.

Finally, unitary statues is, according to the government's own rules, supposed to pay for itself in five years. What the government do not mention is the cost to other councils. If Norwich take the fringe parishes from Broadland, Broadland will be attached to North Norfolk. North Norfolk will gain a large number of rural villages where it costs more to provide services. So North Norfolk's cost will go up exponentially. Do the government take notice of this ?

The thing that disappoints me most about this whole process has been the way that the Norwich City Council Liberal Democrat have got sucked in to supporting this crazy proposal. I know they want to be seen as supporting Norwich, but I'm not even sure that Norwich people support the proposal. I'd like to see the Liberal Democrats consulting more with people, using the local elections to see if Norwich people want the expense that will go with a separate Unitary Authority. Working in Norwich, I can tell you that people I know who live in the City really couldn't give a damn about unitary status. However, in Broadland, people are worried. The Liberal Democrats in Norwich appear from here in Broadland, to have fought Norwich's case, but perhaps at the expense of the rest of Norfolk by supporting the undemocratic and unfair unitary proposal.


Antony said...

I couldn't agree with you more Nich, on all counts. If the government accept this bid it will say more about the present Labour govt than it does about the bid.

BTW does your council colleague Simon Wright agree with you on this? As PPC for Norwich South but councillor for Fakenham it would be interesting to hear his views. Especially, as you say, the Norwich LibDems are so behind this idea.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Antony, I cannot speak for Simon. Simon will no longer be a Fakenham councillor in three months or so. Don't try and make out there is any sort of split between myself and Simon as I cannot remember a situation where we have disagreed.

Simon was at another meeting when we discussed this at the last full council meeting.

As you know, Simon is not a councillor and it is the Norwich City lib Dem group that has supported the unitary bid.

Matt Marshall said...

Funny that my grandmother (Taverham) mentioned something about this on the phone, she was not impressed.

I would be opposed to this idea too. I don't suppose your Norwich City Lib Dems gave an explanation as to the possible benefits?

There was a consideration of a "Greater Ipswich" too, though I really doubt that will ever get anywhere during the next decade. Especially seeing that I think we have about half the population needed for such a plan.

Antony said...

"Calm down dear", I don't give a monkeys where you and Cllr Wright agree or disagree. I just asked what his position was given his dual role. Honestly you need to treat people will a lot less suspicion. You are getting quite rude to posters, anonymous or otherwise. A little courtesy never hurts ;-)

Jock Coats said...

As a slight aside, do you know if there are provisions for the public to object to bids at some stage before they become "done deals" in the sense that they've been given a green light to do more work on it?

I was looking on the DCLG website the other day and couldn't find a single reference to public consultation on bids. Here in Oxford, the Lib Dem group are effectively leading the bid, albeit as a minority administration in a council where two other parties (Labour and Greens) with enough votes to defeat our group support it strongly. And the local party (or at least its elected officers) do not support the bid.

Norfolk Blogger said...

I would simply make the point Antony that I speak for myself. Read my disclaimer at the bottom of my page.

jock, it might be similar in Norwich that councillors and party have differing views.com i know too little about that to comment.

Chris Lewis said...

You're absolutely right, Nich. Also, although other parts of Norfolk may not want to be absorbed into a greater Norwich, neither would they benefit by being cut adrift to survive alone. We need the mix of town and country that makes Norfolk the place it is. If one of the options to carve up the county into three or four unitary authorities goes ahead Norfolk will effectively cease to exist other than as a geographical area. The only alternative would be a single county wide authority/