Just when you think that this Government's ineptitude peaks, they manage to find new heights. After more than three years of consultation, debate and operational paralysis, an announcement has finally been made on the future of local government in Suffolk.
The report from the Boundary Commission offered three options;
- A unitary authority covering the entire county (the preferred option)
- A unitary authority covering Ipswich, Felixstowe and the surrounding area, with a second authority 'Rural Suffolk', covering the rest of the county.
- Accepting the bid for unitary status from Ipswich Borough Council.
What nobody had considered was a fourth option, "we don't know, it's all too difficult, why don't you work it out amongst yourselves?". And yea, it is the latter that has come to pass. Rosie Winterton MP, the Minister for Local Government, said;
"After careful consideration of the Boundary Committee's recommendations and representations from local councils, MPs, stakeholders and the public Ministers found that there were divergent views across Suffolk local councils as to what would be the best unitary solution for the county. No single proposal emerged that Ministers believed that local councils would unite behind.
"We are therefore inviting the all the Suffolk councils and MPs through a countywide constitutional convention to reach a consensus on a unitary solution for that area."
Given that local Conservatives are split on the issue, and that Chris Grayling made it pretty clear that they would scrap the whole plan if they form the next Government, I don't see this going anywhere.
Of course, we were promised significant financial savings on forming a unitary structure, and these are seemingly lost for the time being, putting further pressure on council budgets and leaving things rather up in the air. Worse still, I fear that at least one of Suffolk's district councils is in rather a fragile state.
Personally, it does have one major effect...