Friday, February 12, 2010

Why John Denham has cost Suffolk residents £131 million

Whilst Iain Dale has been concentrating on the alleged breakdown of the relationship between the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, John Denham, and his Permanent Secretary, I'm rather more exercised by an excerpt of the letter from Peter Housden to John Denham, in which he writes;

"However, you currently share the Boundary Committee's view that a single unitary Suffolk meets all the criteria, and if you were to implement it, over the same period (to 2014/15) there would be estimated net savings of some £26m, involving transitional costs of £42m and gross savings of £68m; annual on-going savings thereafter are estimated at £21m."

If this is true, and it is of course debatable, the decision to throw the matter back to the current bodies and county MPs will cost Suffolk residents £131 million over the next ten years, or £187 for every man, woman and child. At a time when the economic recovery is extremely brittle, that isn't going to be welcome.

Frankly, I am appalled, and I suspect that most Suffolk voters will be too. Given that a Labour minister is responsible for this decision, and that local Tories will be responsible for ensuring that the 'constitutional convention' will go precisely nowhere, it leaves very few options open to voters who want change.

I think that we need to take a good hard look at the best structure for local government in Suffolk. Mind you, given that the Boundary Committee already have, it is clear that key political figures across the county, mostly Conservatives, just want power, and don't care about the cost to the rest of us. They've obviously learned from the centre...

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