Tonight I attended a very well attended consultation meeting between the Clerks and Chairs of the parish councils which could be swallowed up by the Norwich Unitary bid. It was well organised and Council Leader Steve Morphew gave a very professional report on the current bid.
However, the assembled masses (who currently reside in Broadland or South Norfolk District) certainly didn't hold back in their vehment criticism of the plans. We were told - on more than one occasion - that not a single member of their council backs these plans. There were worries about the lack of consultation, the shabby state of the polls, the concerns on council tax, the current level of services offered by City Hall and the political direction of unitary. Cllr Morphew and his team of officers did well on some of these points - normally falling back on a catch-all excuse of "ignore the failings of the current Norwich City Council, this will be a NEW council"! Even at one point the meeting was told not to worry because any new council would have lots more conservatives on it and we normally sort most things out. That was nice.
It was a good meeting but I cannot express the strong feelings against this plan - particularly from places like Taverham, Trowse, Drayton, Horsford and Old Catton. These people are happy with the current settup and don't see a reason to change. A lot of the flimsy reasons for unitary were torn to shreds and Steve Morphew did have a bit of a rough time tonight (apparently a similar meeting yesterday went better).
Unitary doesn't need to have unamimous support but it does need to have broad ranging support. The MORI poll won't hide the fact that outside of the City itself, support for Unitary is very, very low. The government will see that and if they go on with the unitary idea still, it will certainly be a political decision being taken where we were promised an economic one.