Council merger proposed for April 2011

TWO districts in Suffolk hope to merge their organisations within the next 15 months - if they don't become part of a “super council” running all services.

TWO districts in Suffolk hope to merge their organisations within the next 15 months - if they don't become part of a “super council” running all services.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk are working on proposals to merge their administration if proposals for wholesale local government review and the creation of unitary councils in Suffolk are rejected by the government.

At this stage there could be no political union between the councils because that would take an Act of Parliament.

But the administrations could be merged with a single chief executive and departments working for two sets of councillors.


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Babergh chief executive Pat Rockall said: “We are looking at merging our administration and managerial services as soon as possible - we would like to have the new structure in place by April 2011 which is when the next district elections are due to take place.

“A political merger could take place in the future - but that is something for the local politicians to consider and it would take primary legislation so it is a very long way off.”

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Mid Suffolk chief Andrew Good said such a move would have job implications - but the councils would try to keep forced redundancies to a minimum.

He said: “Part of the reasons for the merger would be to become more efficient and there is no point in suggesting this will not happen.

“But most of the job reductions will be in managerial and administrative posts - not those people actually working with the public.

“We will still need managers and we would hope to avoid compulsory redundancies as far as possible.”

Mrs Rockall added: “With a larger organisation there would be opportunities to transfer working from Hadleigh (Babergh's Headquarters) to Needham Market (Mid Suffolk's HQ) or vice versa.”

No decision has yet been taken on whether the merged organisation would need joint chief executives - or on what would happen to the two headquarters buildings.

Mr Good said: “In the first instance we would work out of both Hadleigh and Needham, neither building is large enough to cope with a merged authority.

“When we transferred some of our work to Customer Service Direct in Ipswich we had a lot of room released at Needham, but this was rented out to other public sector organisations like the police and social services bringing the council a useful income.

“In the first instance we would work out of both buildings - but it could be that some departments are concentrated at one location and some at the other.”

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