Suffolk authorities to share boss
TWO Suffolk councils are today set to share one boss in a radical move which they claim will bring huge benefits for residents.Stephen Baker is to be appointed joint chief executive of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal.
TWO Suffolk authorities are today set to share one boss in a radical move which they claim will bring huge benefits for residents.
Stephen Baker is to be appointed joint chief executive of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal.
Observers say the move is a bid to stave off the possibility of Waveney - which includes Halesworth, Southwold, Beccles, and Bungay - being absorbed into a joint Yarmouth and Lowestoft authority as part of a shake-up of local government.
Waveney and Suffolk Coastal though say they will remain independent and it is not an official merger but a pooling of resources, talents and knowledge between two areas with many common features.
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The appointment of Mr Baker - currently chief executive of Suffolk Coastal - will be ratified by the councils on February 28.
He will start his new role from April 1, dividing his time equally between the two authorities.
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Suffolk Coastal deputy leader Andy Smith said the change was part of the council's commitment to joint working.
“Stephen has been at the heart of the changes that have helped us deliver £7 million of efficiencies in the last few years, seen our services being regularly rated among the top 25 per cent in the country, and this district and council score the highest public satisfaction ratings in Suffolk,” he said.
“I would reassure our residents that this change will not jeopardise our performance as we have in place a councillor and officer structure that is used to managing change and delivering success.
“We will use the opportunities of working closer with Waveney to deliver even more efficiencies in our district.”
Both councils face coast protection problems, share transport links, have tourism and ports key to their economy, and have large rural and environmentally-important areas.
“There is much in common between us, and there is much more that we can do jointly that can benefit all our communities. Working closer together should lead to more efficiencies and service improvements,” said Mr Smith.
“Sharing a chief executive is a radical move, but it is one that we are confident will work.”
Mr Baker has been at Suffolk Coastal for nearly three years having previously been chief executive of East Northamptonshire Council. Before that, he worked at Ipswich Borough Council for 20 years.
Mark Bee, leader of Waveney, said: “We already enjoy important links with Suffolk Coastal, but with this appointment we will now work more closely, sharing knowledge, expertise, experience and a dedication to the taxpayers of Suffolk that promises a genuinely bright future for us all.”
Is having one boss for two neighbouring councils a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk