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Suffolk ‘super council’ mergers get government go-ahead

Plans to create two new major councils in Suffolk have received approval from the government this week.

Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid announced in December that he was “minded to” agree to the proposals, which would form two new single district councils called East Suffolk and West Suffolk.

Now, in a written statement to Parliament, the secretary of state has said the move can go ahead after consideration of all the relevant information.

East Suffolk would be a merger of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney ​district councils, while West Suffolk would bring together Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council. Both will now be left up to parliamentary approval.

“I have reached my decisions having regard to the criteria for district council mergers I announced to the House on 7 November,” Javid explained.

“I am satisfied that these criteria are met and that both new district councils are likely to improve local government and service delivery in their areas, command a good deal of local support, and that each council area is a credible geography.”

He added that the new councils would be created on 1 April 2019, with the first elections held in May.

The two authorities involved in the West Suffolk plans have already achieved annual savings of £4m by sharing services, but believe a formal agreement of this sort would allow for even more efficiencies and greater growth.

Forest Heath District Council leader, James Waters, said: “The minster’s announcement today reinforces that government agrees with our approach which will benefit our communities, Suffolk and UK PLC.

“Staying still is not an option if we are to meet future challenges and better champion our communities, both locally and nationally, as well as continuing to deliver high-quality services. This means we are not only in a better position to have a louder voice but a real opportunity to find even more effective ways to work more closely and support our local organisations and residents.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council leader, John Griffiths, added: “The decision today and the speed with which it has been taken show how compelling our arguments have been with government for a new council, and how important we know West Suffolk is to the economy.

“We are already a success story and this is the next chapter in transforming what we do, to better meet the needs of our communities and businesses.”

Top image: whitemay

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Bernie Davis   09/02/2018 at 13:43

Dorset are waiting for a similar descision why didnt SoS agree at the same time as Suffolk. Dorset is also looking at a deadline of April 2019?

Jane Westbrook   09/02/2018 at 13:57

Dorset urgently needs a decision from central government, in order to move forward, either as unitary or not. Things are difficult enough without having continual postponement of a decision. Make up your mind, please!

Christoph Bull   09/02/2018 at 17:10

No one seems to think these proposals are taking the local from local government. These Unitaries will be weak and controlled by those people in Westminster who want to destroy local government - aided and abetted by those in local government who should be fighting central government's rape of local democracy - not assisting it.

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