Sombre response from Suffolk's bosses

WHILE there were celebrations at Grafton House, on the other side of Russell Road the mood in the county's headquarters Endeavour House was more sombre.

WHILE there were celebrations at Grafton House, on the other side of Russell Road the mood in the county's headquarters Endeavour House was more sombre.

The county has been very critical of the borough's application for unitary status and this prompted a very public falling out between the leaders of the two authorities last month.

However while the county has opposed the breakaway attempt, every county councillor from Ipswich itself backed the borough's bid.

There are concerns that the change could lead to job losses at Endeavour House as some functions are transferred to the borough, although some officers are likely to simply transfer from one authority to the other.

It is also likely that schools in Ipswich will be able to continue to buy in support services from the county council.

Suffolk county council spokesman Francis Thomas said it was too early to say whether the county would make a formal objection to the bid, it was still studying the implications.

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However that did not stop county council leader Jeremy Pembroke from urging caution about the bid.

He said today: "The period of consultation has now begun. Local people will need to be clear, both in terms of the services they will receive and how much it could cost them. In our view the figures do not add up.

“The people of Ipswich know that the county council is a top performing four star authority.

“Where is the evidence that a new unitary council could deliver better services at lower cost?

“The unanswered question for people in Ipswich and across the whole of Suffolk, is who will pay for any new council structure?"

The county council believes that separating out the services it provides in Ipswich will mean more managers for Ipswich residents to pay for and reduce the economies of scale for the rest of Suffolk.

The borough denies that a unitary council would be more expensive, pointing out that its bid is fully costed and would show considerable savings.

The government has said it will not allow any changes to the local government system if it is likely to be more expensive than it is at present.

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