Poll: New report by Michael Heseltine re-ignites debate over possible home rule for Norwich

The debate over whether Norwich should be run by a unitary council was re-ignited today after a major government report recommended abolishing district authorities.

No Stone Unturned, written by Conservative heavyweight Michael Heseltine, said district councils should go to save money and make local government easier for business to deal with.

Leader of Norwich City Council Brenda Arthur said she was 'delighted' at the report, but Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council, suggested Lord Heseltine's plans would never be realised.

'Neither ourselves or the party nationally have any plans to implement these ideas,' he said.

Lord Heseltine also said �60bn should be stripped from Whitehall departments and handed to business-led bodies like New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to help them boost economic growth locally.


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New Anglia chairman Andy Wood said: 'It seems that whereas the government might have seen the (LEPs) as a bit of an experiment, they have now decided that they are now going to be the engines of growth.'

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: 'This is a report bursting with ideas and we will study it very carefully.'

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The report recommends that: �60bn be stripped from Whitehall departments and handed to business-led bodies like Norfolk and Suffolk's New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The two tier council system be abolished, with unitary authorities taking control.

Every school to have local business leaders on their governing boards.

Lord Heseltine said cities like Norwich and Ipswich and their regions were once vital to British might and it was time they were again.

He explained: 'The argument which over decades has led to the present centralism goes very simply – 'they are not good enough, they can't be trusted, we can do it better, let's have a quango'. 'It's happened under all governments. It's happened over decades and you now have an economy in this country unlike any other in an advanced capitalist economy – on a functional and on a monopolistic basis in the capital city.

'The object of the report is to recreate and strengthen the partnership of local government and private sector so policies are designed where they matter.'

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