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Problem-solving groups set up to tackle grassroots issues across East Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 11:49 09 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 09 September 2019

East Suffolk Council is launching eight community partnerships to respond to the needs of communities in the district. Picture: THOMAS CHAPMAN

East Suffolk Council is launching eight community partnerships to respond to the needs of communities in the district. Picture: THOMAS CHAPMAN

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Eight new problem-solving groups are to be formed across East Suffolk after fears the merger of two councils would mean grassroots issues being forgotten.

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said the partnerships would make it easier to respond to specific issues in communities. Picture: PAUL NIXON/SUFFOLK COASTALEast Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant said the partnerships would make it easier to respond to specific issues in communities. Picture: PAUL NIXON/SUFFOLK COASTAL

Concerns were raised that the merger of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils in April would mean less focus on community issues, with councillors having larger areas to represent.

In response, East Suffolk Council's cabinet has agreed to form eight 'community partnerships' involving councillors, police, the NHS, town and parish councils, businesses and voluntary organisations coming together to discuss specific issues to those areas.

Councillor Steve Gallant, Conservative council leader, said: "Each one of us has more electors that we need to be responsive to, and we have a wider geographical area than we had previously.

"The shadow authority [which worked on the transition between the old and new council] was tasked with ways to make sure the level of interaction between the councillors and community was maintained.

"There are a lot of challenges right across our area from urban deprivation to rural isolation and all the transport issues that go with those, so there are huge opportunities to make a difference here."

The eight partnerships will be:

- Lowestoft

- Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth

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- Kessingland, Carlton Colville and Southwold

- Framlingham and Wickham Market

- Leiston and Saxmundham

- Woodbridge, Melton and Deben

- Kesgrave and Martlesham

- Felixstowe

The community partnerships will be launched in October or November, with an open invitation to a community workshop in each area where local issues and needs will be identified.

The first formal meetings will then take place between January and March 2020, with quarterly meetings anticipated.

Nicole Rickard, head of communities at the council, said: "This is a really exciting opportunity to do something different and we very much want this to be based on data.

"We are really keen that the community partnerships are solution focused so that when people come along they don't just bring a problem they are part of finding the solution - whatever issues are facing that community."

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