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MPs and Lords give backing to new West Suffolk Council

Parliament has given the nod of approval to the formation of a new West Suffolk Council.

The West Suffolk proposal was the first of its kind to be agreed by the House of Commons, which local government minister, Rishi Sunak, described as a historic moment.

In a speech to the House of Lords today, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth told the Grand Committee that the proposals had “strong public support.” A programme of engagement saw a massive 70% of residents back the initiative in an independent poll.

Lord Tebbit, a West Suffolk resident, spoke at the debate, praising the shared services and how closely the councils had already been working together.

The orders to create the new council, proposed by Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, are due to be signed later this month.

The plans, which were first put forward last May, received initial approval from former communities secretary Sajid Javid in December last year when he said he was “minded to approve” them.

It is hoped that the new council will drive jobs, deliver services and continue investment to support local communities better than the current arrangement, as well as generating around £800,000 in additional savings and efficiencies and help protect the £4m of annual savings already produced by sharing services.

In addition, the councils expect that the new authority will better support, invest in and meet the challenges facing communities, such as increased population, demand for housing, the need for jobs, and reduced funding nationally.

The two local authorities have been making a case to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to ensure strong representation of local communities is maintained.

In a joint statement, Cllr Carol Bull of St Edmundsbury and Cllr Ruth Bowman of Forest Heath District, chair and vice chair respectively of the Future Governance Steering Group, called the move a historic moment for the UK as a whole.

They explained: “We are at the forefront of transforming local government nationally and putting our residents at the heart of those changes.

“This is about making sure we can deliver better outcomes and drive economic, social and health benefits for our residents whilst investing in our businesses and local area.”

Top image: whitemay


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