Monday, July 07, 2008

Unitary: Still more questions than answers

I am not going to go into automatic gloating mode; I don't think this decision is the end and a lot could change - oddly enough the same warning I gave Labour after the previous unitary announcement, so I'm going to take my own advice.

But on the face of it, thinks look very bad for Morphew and his Green / LibDem allies on this, as the Boundary Commission says its preferred option is a full county unitary (including Lowestoft) that effectivly abolishes Norwich City Council.

City Hall have invested a lot of time and money into this; often in the face of strong opposition from us Tories, the wider public, parish councils and fellow authorities. If it all falls by the wayside - or worse, produces a result that is the opposite to the original unitary theory of an urban focus - then heads will roll at the council and rightly so. Already tonight what is clear is that Councillors from all parties are at each other's throats - again. But whilst the Tory split on the issue has been clear for some time, the vicious manner in which Labour and the LibDems have turned on each other has surprised even me.

The media have also taken a hit; the EDP has been running a pretty consistent anti-unitary line (it sells well in the county) but the Evening News will have to choose its editorial line pretty carefully tomorrow to avoid looking rather outdated and simplistic. It has been running an almost minute-by-minute response today and the EEN should be congratulated for their depth of coverage.

Also the question being asked is if City Hall can stop the leakage of support; Cllr Ramsay pointed out tonight that the Chamber of Commerce have backed away from supporting a greater Norwich and now believes that "bigger is better" and we ought to have a "Norfolk wide lobby". Many groups will back the winning side; City Hall have I think just days to stop this leakage.

We had a Councillor briefing tonight and the feelings amongst my colleagues in other parties was still utter surprise; I think that the searching for a reason "why" will start tomorrow. One source said to me that they don't know how Norwich managed to throw it away from this position; I think that when we re-read the BC report in the light of tomorrow morning, we may once again be left with more questions than answers.


Anonymous said...

So many wide open goals to shoot many shots wide of the mark.

Anonymous said...

The Boundary Commission have published a dogs dinner cloaked as the wisdom of Solomon. It ignores most councils concepts other than the County Unitary and the Doughnut.

If pushed to choose from the 3 options, I'd choose G4, The doughnut. I still think Best4Norfolk is the most democratic and representative Unitary solution for Norfolk.

A question should be, when you look at the foyer wall in City Hall and see the history of lord mayors going back to medieval times, this is what will be eliminated by G1/G2 options. Perhaps many unhappy residents in Norwich now? Note, Norfolk CC dates to 1974.

Anonymous said...

A very fair and balanced post Antony - well done you, because this could have bene your moment to stick the knife in.

FWIW I thought the Eve News stuff was disgraceful - I know they r meant to be fighting for Norwich etc etc butthis slavish pro-unitary line (which I know their reporters do not share) is just ridic. Most people in Norwich either dont care or oppose - few people outside of the city hall are in favour. Their coverage fails to reocngise this.

Anonymous said...

Anon - and you'd like to see the break up of the county instead - the High Sheriff of Norfolk is the OLDEST civic role in the COUNTRY

Anonymous said...

Dave, yes on both. One can keep a High Sherriff role just as most counties keep a title role for a Lord Lieutenent.

Evening News have been spot on, all options and opinions and really informative (as antony mentioned) with their coverage of Unitary. At least the public is informed of what is going on, as it happens; rather than mushrooms anon2 seems to prefer.