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David Cameron pledges to scrap unitary status for Norwich

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:31 02 July 2010

David Cameron has pledged a Conservative government would scrap the award of unitary status to Norwich.

David Cameron has pledged a Conservative government would scrap the award of unitary status to Norwich.

Sarah Hall

A new Conservative government would scrap unitary status for Norwich, Tory leader David Cameron insisted during a visit to Norwich.

During his visit to Sprowston Community High School Mr Cameron said he would stop Norwich from taking on a raft of responsibilities from Norfolk County Council - by overturning the government order to grant it unitary status.

A new Conservative government would scrap unitary status for Norwich, Tory leader David Cameron insisted during a visit to Norwich.

During his visit to Sprowston Community High School Mr Cameron said he would stop Norwich from taking on a raft of responsibilities from Norfolk County Council - by overturning the government order to grant it unitary status.

Mr Cameron insisted: “It can be done. It's something which the government rushed through. We've taken necessary advice and know it can be done relatively simply on May 6.

“The evidence is that it creates additional costs and stacks up bills for the taxpayers. People would rather a freeze on council tax than this, which stacks up bills.”

When pressed on whether an incoming government might have other priorities, Mr Cameron insisted: “We made this promise not just in Norfolk but in Devon as well. It can be done relatively simply. If we win the election we will not forget about Norfolk.”

However, Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “I think he is factually wrong about how easy it is to turn it over, apart from the fact there would be no justification for doing so.

“But if he is that confident, perhaps he would like to have a word with the Conservatives at Norfolk County Council and persuade them not to waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of money, which is much needed elsewhere, on a judicial challenge.”

Mr Cameron shrugged off questions over whether his visit to Norwich North was because he had worries about Chloe Smith hanging onto the seat she won in last year's by-election.

“I am not worried about Chloe Smith. She has proven a very strong local MP and is campaigning hard, but I wanted to get to Norfolk and the East of England early in the campaign and was particularly keen to see this project.

“I'm here supporting Chloe and all our candidates in East Anglia. There's some very important and tight races.

“We have got a very strong candidate in Norwich South. We showed what was possible with Chloe and we want that to be part one.”

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