Mid Suffolk/Babergh: Leader proposes creating joint council headquarters by A14
10:00 06 February 2014
The leader of a council has called for it to leave its headquarters to move to a new location by the A14 in partnership with another authority as it looks to save millions of pounds a year.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils could be set to move to a new single headquarters with several satellite offices set up across the two areas.
That is the view of Jennie Jenkins, leader of Babergh, as the authorities undertake a review into the future of their two main offices.
The leader of Mid Suffolk, Derrick Haley, said he would have “no objection” to the proposal and backed Mrs Jenkins’ view that the smaller offices would be needed.
Already the councils share the same management team and provide joined services but they maintain separate offices: Babergh in Hadleigh and Mid Suffolk in Needham Market.
Mrs Jenkins said: “It’s my personal view but I do not think it will be at Babergh or at Mid Suffolk, in Needham Market - it will be somewhere in between. We have got to be open, we need to look at everything.
“It’s got to be viable for all of us because time is spent by people travelling between the two offices. I would like to think if we do it halfway it would be somewhere on the A14 corridor - halfway between the two offices.”
A village like Sproughton could be considered as it is next to the A14 and around eight miles away from Hadleigh and Needham Market.
In 2011 people voted against the authorities merging but since then millions of pounds have been wiped from the councils’ budgets because of Government cuts to the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The cost of running the Hadleigh and Needham Market offices is more than £2million a year.
Mr Haley said both councils had “excess offices” within their main sites and stressed the importance of public access and value for money.
“It’s a question of access and the A14 is great because it’s got the access,” he said.
“Provided we have other places (satellite offices), it could work. We would need other offices; we could not just have a central headquarters, no way, that’s not acceptable. We need the (satellite offices) in Sudbury, Hadleigh, Stowmarket. Then we would need something at the top of Mid Suffolk, like the Eye area because it’s quite rural up there.”
Both leaders stressed that no final decision had been made but wanted progress before the next district elections in 2015.
The satellite offices could operate in town halls or libraries providing council staff with the ability to “hot desk”.