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East Suffolk council merger to be put into law ‘in very near future’

The first-ever joint meeting of two Suffolk councils this week has led to the approval of a much-anticipated merger, which could almost halve the number of councillors operating in the area.

Waveney and Suffolk Coastal councils were given the government go-ahead to create a ‘super council’ in February, and met earlier this week to outline plans for the merger – which will reduce the number of elected members from 90 to 55.

The electoral review of the submission of the merger said that statutory orders required to bring East Suffolk will be made into legislation “in the very near future.” The existing two councils will be dissolved on 1 April 2019, with elections for East Suffolk Council taking place shortly after on 2 May.

An Electoral Review Members Working Group (MWG) has been drawn up with members from both councils to formulate and agree a warding structure for the East Suffolk Council.

The large reduction in councillors has led to a re-think of the geographical size and shape of the district: the meeting found that cutting posts would result in “significant adjustments” in the size of wards, most likely by removing smaller wards and re-sizing the remaining wards to cover larger geographical areas.

Parish councils will not be adjusted as part of the merger. The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) “will adjust the internal parish warding arrangements only in the event of a district ward boundary ‘cutting through’ a parish boundary,” adding that this will first need to be confirmed by the secretary of state.

In board papers, the councils said this warding proposal is essential to the creation of the new East Suffolk Council and will be a key part of exploring options for further integration between the authorities for more streamlined and resilient district services – as well as of evaluating the potential for greater autonomy in the region.

Top Image Credit: Whitemay iStock images

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