Broadland saved, but Norwich to go Unitary

After a leak last week giving away the government's position on the proposals for unitary councils in Norfolk, the government today officially announced that Norwich City Council is to be turned in to a unitary authority, with no change for the rest of Norfolk. Whilst this is in many ways a good thing, particularly as we retain our local councils and will not be swallowed up by some "super council" as was first proposed, there are some consequenes for all of us, even those living outside of Norwich.

In giving Norwich Unitary status, and its schools becoming separate from Norfolk Schools, there will now need to be some duplication of resources, and many of the economies of scale which Norfolk Education Authority has will be gone as 20% of the schools budget was spent in Norwich. Teacher training centres, managers, and a whole host of other expenses will now be split amongst the remaining 80% of the county. inevitably this will put up costs for all of us.

Then there are the issues to do with children in Broadland going to Norwich schools. Many children in Broadland go to schools in Norwich like The Open Academy, Sewell Park College, Hewett, and others, and these schools will now be in a different education authority. This will cause all sorts of problems too in social services, bit this is all stuff the government know and chose to ignore.

The ironic thing is about the whole process is that the re-organisation of local government was supposed to cut costs, not increase them. According to the government's own rules, Norwich going unitary could not pass the threshold for making savings and it therefore should have been turned down. So the Labour government have managed to botch one of their final ever decisions. No change there then , they've botched up a lot since 1997 !


Turnip said...


Anonymous said...

This is the same as has happened in Devon. Exeter City is to go unitary, like failing Torbay!

James Mackenzie said...

In the best neutral way possible, Nich, what would you say the implications of this proposal are for political parties' representation at a local council level?

Norfolk Blogger said...

I think it has big implications. The Greens will now face real scrutiny. If their local election results hold up in "all up" elections, they should become the largest party. This means they would ahve to take minority control, and would no longer be able to blame everyone else and offer no solutions, which has been their policy for years in Norwich.

The Lib Dems imploded at a local level from the strain of running Norwich city council. The Lib Dems have recovered well organisationally in Norwich, but not yet in terms of winning seats (although they are still the best beat to beat Charles Clarke in Norwich South as the Lib Dem candidate has a fabulous campaigning track record and really knows his stuff).

The main thing that will happen though is that we are pretty much guaranteed a tory majority on the County Council for many years to come. They currently have just two seats in Norwich. It also wipes the Green Party out on the County Council as all their councillors are Norwich based. It would reduce Labour to a group of one, the same as UKIP.

The new county council would be
Cons 58, Lib Dem 11, Lab 1,Ukip 1, Greens 0

Anonymous said...

You make an excellent point about secondary schools. So many children travel into Norwich from South Norfolk to attend CNS, the Hewett, Notre Dame etc. Norwich is not designed to be a stand alone unitary with responsibilities that have always been shared with other parts of the County. Will children from other parts of Norfolk become second-class citizens in these schools with priority being given to "City Kids"?

A passing observation - Antony Little, leader of the Tories in the City Council, has got nothing on his blog about Unitary. Is it only you who keep up to date with these things?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Ah, Mr Little. I guess he is possibly a little upset that he will have to stand down as a councillor what with him working in the city for Norfolk County Council and his school becoming part of Norwich City Council.

Anonymous said...

Good points about schools etc. Why is the Lib Dem leader on the City Council supporting this mad unitary idea.

Norfolk Blogger said...

it appears that those with serious chances of winning in Norwich South are keen to be "pro city". I can't speak for Norwich Lib Dems. I know that in the rest of the County the Lib Dems are opposed, but is seems that lots of City Councillors have different policies from the rest of the County.

One senior Tory Councillor and PPC in Norwich opposed the Norfolk County Council's plan to build an incinerator. He now opposed the Tory County Council's plans to turn off streetlights, so it seems that the Lib Dems are not alone in allowing their local council groups have their own policies.