Council merger could save �1m

SUFFOLK: Two local authorities could save up to �1million by merging, it has been revealed.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk Councils will debate a potential merger after being told to make substantial cuts by central government.

For a number of months, work has been progressing on an Outline Business Case looking at ways in which the two councils could work more closely together. These would involve varying degrees of staff integration, leading to a single staffing structure to serve both councils. An option to go even further and replace the two councils with one new district council to serve the Babergh and Mid Suffolk areas is also being drawn up.

A single office structure for the two councils would result in annual savings of at least �1m. The creation of a new single council could recoup savings of at least �1.5m a year.

The Outline Business Case will now go to Babergh’s Strategy Committee on Thursday and Mid Suffolk’s Executive Committee on Monday, August 2, before going to Babergh’s Full Council meeting on August 31 and Mid Suffolk’s Full Council meeting on September 9.

Nick Ridley, Babergh’s Strategy Committee chairman, said: “We both face the daunting prospect of 25 per cent funding cuts over the next four years – on top of the considerable savings we have already both had to find.

“It is clear neither council can continue to take these blows on our own without a wholesale reduction in our ability to deliver services.”

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Tim Passmore, Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, added: “Both authorities already have experience of working well together through the joint management of our waste collection and several other services.

“These proposals will take this further, so we can continue to deliver high quality services.”

Copies of the business case are available at www.babergh.gov.uk and www.midsuffolk.gov.uk

n What do you think of plans to merge the two councils? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk