We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has recognised that the process the Committee followed in formulating its draft proposals in Suffolk was lawful and consistent with the guidance that the Secretary of State issued.
Our approach has allowed around 20,000 residents, groups and organisations in Suffolk, Norfolk and Devon to have their say and provide evidence about how their local authorities should be structured. This has helped us determine which alternative proposals should be consulted on and refined our thinking about what matters to residents in delivering effective and convenient local government.
We regret the delays and increased costs to the public purse that legal challenges have brought to the process, and welcome today’s unequivocal judgment.
Our role in this process remains as it has always been: not to decide what will happen but to give the Government our independent advice. Today’s judgment allows us to proceed with giving advice to the Secretary of State on Suffolk, Norfolk and Devon should he provide us with a new deadline.
Gareth Nicholson on 020 7271 0638
Outside office hours: 07789 920414
1. The Boundary Committee for England is a committee of the Electoral Commission, an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. The Committee’s main role is to conduct electoral reviews of local authorities in England with the aim of ensuring the number of electors represented by each councillor is approximately the same. Other duties include reviewing local authority boundaries and advising the Government on local authority bids for unitary status.
2. A structural review is used to establish whether one or more single, all-purpose councils, known as unitary authorities, should be established in an area instead of the existing two-tier system.
3. The Boundary Committee published its original draft proposals on 7 July 2008 and began a public consultation exercise that ended 26 September 2008. Further draft proposals were published on 19 March 2009 and were subject to public consultation until 14 May 2009.
4. The Court of Appeal’s judgment was handed down on 2 December 2009. The judgment overturns a High Court judgment of 10 July 2009 that quashed the Boundary Committee’s draft proposals for Suffolk, which were published on 19 March 2009.