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Norfolk is a shire county, under the control of Norfolk County Council. This is divided into seven local government districts, Breckland District, Broadland District, Great Yarmouth Borough, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough, North Norfolk District, Norwich City and South Norfolk.
In 2007 the Department for Communities and Local Government referred Norwich City Council's proposal to become a new unitary authority to the Boundary Committee. The Boundary Committee consulted local bodies and reported against the proposal, so Norfolk's local government structure remains unchanged.
However, consultation on the Committee's 2008 proposals for Norfolk closed on September 26th, 2008, with final recommendations to Government by 31st December, 2008. Thereafter,a decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Until then, the future organisation of the County remains uncertain.
Norfolk County Council is Conservative-controlled and led by Daniel Cox. There are 46 Conservative councillors, 22 Labour councillors, 14 Liberal Democrat councillors and two Green councillors. There was 63% turnout at the most recent local election.
In the House of Commons, Norfolk is represented by four Conservative Members of Parliament, three Labour MPs and one Liberal Democrat. Labour represent the more urban areas of Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, represents Norwich South.
Norfolk's county town and only city is Norwich, one of the largest settlements in England during the Norman era. Norwich is home to Norfolk's only university, the University of East Anglia, and is the county's main business and culture centre. Other principal towns include the port-town of King's Lynn and the seaside resort and Broads gateway town of Great Yarmouth. There are also several market towns: Aylsham, Downham Market, Dereham, Fakenham,Diss, Holt, North Walsham, Swaffham, Thetford and Wymondham.
Norfolk is one the few counties in England that does not have a motorway. The A11 connects Norfolk to Cambridge and London and the A47 runs west to the East Midlands. The Great Eastern Main Line is a major railway from London Liverpool Street Station to Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. The only major airport in the county is Norwich International Airport, which offers flights within Europe, including a link to Amsterdam which offers onward flights throughout the world.
The Norfolk Dialect, also known as "Broad Norfolk", is the accent/dialect of people living in Norfolk, although over the modern age much of the vocabulary and phrases have died out due to a number of factors, such as radio, TV and people from other parts of the country coming to Norfolk. As a result the speech of Norfolk is more of an accent than dialect, though one part retained from the Norfolk dialect is the distinctive grammar of the region.
More cutting, perhaps, was the formerly-used pejorative medical term "Normal for Norfolk", now discredited, the use of which is banned by the profession.
Norfolk is a popular tourist destination; major attractions include beaches, the Broads, and the city of Norwich. The Queen's residence of Sandringham provides an all year round tourist attraction. Rural parts of the county, notably the area around Burnham Market, are also popular locations for city dwellers to purchase weekend homes. Arthur Conan Doyle first conceived the idea for The Hound Of The Baskervilles whilst holidaying in Cromer with Bertram Fletcher Robinson after hearing local folklore tales regarding the mysterious hound known as Black Shuck. Norwich is the regional administrative centre and county city of Norfolk. During the 11th century Norwich was the second largest city in England, after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom. The suburban area expands far beyond its boundary, with extensive suburban areas outside the city on the western, northern and eastern sides, including Thorpe St Andrew on the eastern side.