Did you enjoy our April Fools’ Day joke? - Norwich is granted independence from the rest of the country
As many of you guessed, our story about Norwich being given independence from the rest of the country was indeed an April Fool. Now that midday has passed, the game is up. So what was it that gave the game away? Perhaps Mile Cross being changed to Mile Happy, or the 8ft gold statues of the Singing Postman?
Today was the day Norwich was supposed to get unitary status, which would have given the city council more control over services such as schools and social services.
Orders were passed in parliament in March last year, but the new coalition government scrapped the proposals and a High Court judgement delivered last summer concluded the process by which Norwich was awarded unitary status was unlawful.
But, in a surprise move, the government today announced that Norwich would instead be granted its independence, which means the city council has been handed a �100m pot of cash and vastly increased powers.
The council will be able to create its own laws and impose new taxes, while the next leader at City Hall, following May's elections, will also become a prince or princess.
You may also want to watch:
The Evening News understands that delighted bosses at Norwich City Council are already planning the ways they intend to use their new-found independence.
It will include completely rebuilding the 14th century city walls and putting back the once-imposing gates in streets such as St Benedicts and at the top of St Stephens.
- 1 Cannabis factory uncovered in former bar in Norwich's clubland
- 2 Team behind Norwich restaurants reopen closed hotel
- 3 Police swoop after £400k cocaine parcel delivered to Norwich house
- 4 Norwich pub welcomes eight new street food vendors
- 5 Heron dies after being shot six times with air gun in Norwich
- 6 Council to force landowners to sell so £1.3m roundabout can be built
- 7 Man found dead in Norwich hotel
- 8 Restaurant boss U-turn after row over trial shift pay
- 9 £1.3m property for sale on one of most popular roads in Norwich
- 10 Pair led to safety after 'taking refuge' in fire-hit house
Council chiefs say that clearing everyone out of the city centre between midnight and 6am and then locking those gates will make the streets safer.
While independence comes with a �100m windfall to pay for such schemes, the council has already considered how to generate further revenue in the future.
They are planning a �50 development departure tax when visitors from Suffolk leave the city, while anyone who is sporting an Ipswich Town scarf or shirt will have to pay double.
The council has also listened to families from Mile Cross, who have long complained that the name of the estate makes them sound angrier than they really are.
A referendum will be held and if 51pc of voters agree, the name will be changed to Mile Happy.
And a fresh bid to become the next UK City of Culture will be spearheaded by the installation of two statues showcasing the county's greatest singer/songwriter The Singing Postman.
The 8ft gold plated statues of Allan Smethurst will be erected in place of the lions outside City Hall, while his greatest hit, Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy? will also be performed at the start of all civic events.
But Prof Asia Dolly, an expert in local government, sounded a note of caution over Norwich's new status.
She said: 'When cities are given this degree of independence and this much money, it's common for the people in power to try to assert their authority by coming up with a string of ridiculous ideas.
'In Norwich's case, where the next council leader is also set to become royalty, there's even the danger they will become so drunk on power that they lose all touch with reality.
'When they start making people bow down to them when they pass in the street, you know it's probably time to start planning a revolution.'