Now Ruffley wades in to slam Ipswich unitary bid in letter to Secretary of State Ruth Kelly

Tuesday, 15 May, 2007

David Ruffley MP has today released a letter he has sent to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly MP, attacking Ipswich Borough Council's bid for unitary status.

Ipswich Borough Council is one of 16 Councils short-listed for unitary status and a decision is due in July of this year.

David said:

'If England's boroughs and counties are wiped off the map and replaced with 'sub-regional' hybrids, it will weaken local identities and create a vacuum in which the unelected regional assemblies will suck up yet more power.

'There is little evidence to suggest that services within Ipswich will improve and the process of reorganisation will have a serious impact on the wider quality of life enjoyed by Suffolk residents.

'A unitary Ipswich will require a new budget structure, the relocation and redeployment of staff, the redistribution of assets and property and the possible renegotiation of existing contracts. All this pen pushing will distract our councils from what they are elected to do- representing the interests of the people of Suffolk and Ipswich.

'The creation of a unitary Ipswich will lead to the duplication of effort and create an unnecessary tier of bureaucracy.

'I have strong reservations as to the costs associated with the proposals for a unitary Ipswich. To my mind there is little evidence that any such new authority will be capable of meeting the five-year payback period required by the Government.

'Research by Cambridge University has estimated that the reorganisation costs of converting two-tier councils to unitary councils could be in the region of £121 per head, and 'there is every prospect that on-going costs would in fact be increased'. Such a bill would be equivalent to £345 per council tax-paying household.

'If the Government really wanted to save money it would start with abolishing the East of England Regional Assembly- it is a needless tier of unelected bureaucrats intent only on sucking up more and more power.'