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Norfolk council leaders vow to work closer together - but unitary authority desire not there

PUBLISHED: 17:20 06 August 2018

Andrew Proctor, new leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

Andrew Proctor, new leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Neil Perry

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We want to work together - but not as one.

This is the message from the leaders of Norfolk’s eight councils, in a letter to all of the county’s MPs around the prospect of a local government reorganisation.

All eight leaders have a letter expressing their desire to work closer together in future, but not as one authority.

It comes in response to decisions from various other counties nationally to pursue unitary approaches, which the leaders do not feel would be the right move for Norfolk.

The letter reads: “We do see the need for change and the opportunities for greater efficiencies, but we believe that more practical solutions lie in us working better together.

“We need no reminder of the pressures on local government and the need to make the most of the declining resources available to meet the rising need for more housing, vulnerable children and an ageing population.

“In this context we do understand why reorganisation may seem like a good idea; fewer structures, slimmer governance and management, better integration of roles and responsibilities. We get that.

“But reorganisation of Norfolk local government will take years and cost far more money than it saves. It will distract political attention and management capacity from the most important task for the next few years, and that is living within the resource implications of the localism agenda.”

The letter mentions a number of existing collaborations between the county and districts, including the growth strategy, the waste partnership and the health and wellbeing board as examples of the type of work the collaboration will include.

However, the exact form it will take remains to be seen, with leaders to meet next month to discuss ways of taking joint work further.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “As new leader of this council I do not want to see us going around in circles about trying to change structure and we do not want to pursue a route of unitary authority.

“However, I think working better together, still as separate, autonomous councils, is something we need to do.”

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