More districts aim for reform merge snub

SUFFOLK: Two more districts are today hoping to merge their services as an alternative to the formation of a “super council” to run all local authority business in the county.

Paul Geater

SUFFOLK: Two more districts are today hoping to merge their services as an alternative to the formation of a “super council” to run all local authority business in the county.

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney already share a chief executive and a head of planning - and have now written to communities and local government secretary John Denham to demand that he rejects proposals for either a “One Suffolk” option or an Ipswich/Felixstowe option for local government reform.

The government's Boundary Committee has proposed that a single body should run all council services in Suffolk.

As an alternative, it has been recommended that the county should be split in two with one authority running services in Ipswich, Felixstowe and the Shotley peninsula and a second authority running services in the rest of the county.

A joint delegation from Suffolk Coastal and Waveney met Mr Denham's junior minister Rosie Winterton last week when the councils' leaders, Ray Herring and Mark Bee, outlined their concerns about the review.

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Mr Herring said: “Suffolk Coastal and Waveney are developing a 'super-district' model to reflect the shared ambitions of our communities, and similar agreements are also underway involving Babergh and Mid Suffolk.

“We are ready to press ahead with our work which will ensure that our communities receive a high quality of service, and value for money, in a way that they can be fully involved with,” added Mr Herring.

The merger cannot be as deep as that proposed for Babergh and Mid Suffolk at present because Suffolk Coastal and Waveney operate very differently.

Suffolk Coastal sold off its housing stock many years ago and it has also contracted out its leisure services. Waveney still runs these services itself.

However, a spokesman for the council said talks would continue on merging services wherever possible.

He said: “I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but there really is much more that unites us than divides us.”

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