Unitary Status Update - July 2009

The local government reorganisation process has experienced further delay, changing the expected timetable.  It was expected that the Boundary Committee for England (BCE) would make its recommendation to the Secretary of State on 15 July.

However, the results of a judicial review of the BCEs process by Suffolk district councils heard earlier this month have resulted in further delays. The judgement agreed with the districts that the BCE had not consulted properly on proposals for unitary structures submitted by districts that were not included in their draft proposals.

Because of this, the BCE could not make their recommendation as expected and the Secretary of State has therefore agreed an unspecified extension to the deadline to allow for an expected appeal of the judicial review judgement.

This means the uncertainty continues for our members, with a range of outcomes still possible, including:

  • Status quo – delays in the timescale could mean that no unitary structures are implemented in the foreseeable future 
  • New unitary structures from April 2011 – if the Secretary of State decides to implement unitary structures following a delayed recommendation from the BCE and these are approved by Parliament, new unitary structures could still be implemented. This might be the single Norfolk unitary, the two-unitary solution of greater Norwich and the rest of Norfolk or possibly a different proposal 
  • Unitary status for Norwich on existing boundaries – the Secretary of State could still choose to implement Norwich City Council’s original proposal for unitary status for Norwich on existing boundaries

The branch’s principle concern is to protect jobs and services, regardless of the eventual outcome. The branch will continue to liaise with the different councils involved and other Norfolk branches throughout the process.

We would like to hear your views on this issue – e-mail unison@norwich.gov.uk