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Norwich leader slams Tory MPs

PUBLISHED: 08:01 10 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:42 02 July 2010

Steve Morphew

Steve Morphew

Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew today criticised Tory MPs for not "bothering to check their facts" during a Commons debate on the new unitary authority in Norwich.

Norwich City Council leader Steve Morphew today criticised Tory MPs for not “bothering to check their facts” during a Commons debate on the new unitary authority in Norwich.

Last night MPs rubber-stamped the Norwich unitary council plan, voting for it by over 80 votes, after a Tory motion opposing it was rejected by 275 votes to 191.

But the scheme could still be blocked in the Lords and it could be scuppered by a legal challenge by Norfolk County Council that's due to be heard next month.

Mr Morphew said: “It is a poor show that parliamentarians don't even bother to check their facts. It looks remarkably as if they are hiding behind parliamentary privilege to be either sloppy or downright untruthful.

“If the debate proved anything it showed how important it is for Norwich to have a greater say in its own affairs.

“Being run by rural voices that turn off our lights, close our day centres, stop us pedestrianising streets, take money from our schools and make up reasons to attack the city is surely proof-positive we need to do different.”

Mr Morphew also said he would write to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith after what he called her “shallow and ill-informed” remarks during the debate.

Communities Secretary John Denham was accused of “cowardice” and “a complete cop-out” by Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson after leaving the Commons defence of his unitary decision to local government minister Rosie Winterton.

Meanwhile, the government stirred up further controversy by sending a letter to Norfolk's councils urging them to use the proposed structural changes “to drive forward economic growth by creating more innovative and efficient services”.

The Evening News revealed last week that council leaders are proposing a cross party team to set up a new unitary authority for Norwich.

An implementation executive made up of 18 councillors, 12 from the city council and six from Norfolk County Council, would be tasked with drawing up what the new authority should look like.

If the authority does get the green light, the executive will need to be up and running within 21 days. Also, May's city council elections would be cancelled.

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