Suffolk: Only half of decision-makers for county reside in Suffolk

SUFFOLK: They’re helping the county’s politicians make decisions that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across Suffolk.

But only half the top team at Endeavour House actually live in the county they serve.

A Freedom of Information request from The Evening Star revealed that three of the six directors at the county council live outside Suffolk.

So does deputy chief fire officer Mark Hardingham – who lives in Essex.

Chief Executive Andrea Hill lives in Cambridgeshire, chief fire officer Andy Fry lives in Essex and interim director of children and young people’s services Simon White lives in London.

The three who live in Suffolk are director of resource management Graham Dixon, interim director of adult and community services Anna McCreadie and Dr Peter Bradley, director of public health, whose post is joint-funded between the county council and the NHS.

The Star asked about the two top fire officers because either or both could be called out in a major emergency like the fire at Center Parcs in 2002.

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A spokesman for the county said Mr Fry did not live far from the Suffolk border and could be at the Endeavour House headquarters from his home within 40 minutes in an emergency.

He said: “All of our directors are entirely committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for the people of Suffolk.

Every director ensures that they spend a large part of their working time talking to our residents and travelling around the county to ensure they are aware first-hand of the issues that are important to our communities.

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard said the issue for officials living outside the county was that they did not pick up the feeling coming through from local people using services.

She said: “I cannot go down to the local shops without people coming up and telling me things. I find these informal chats very valuable in picking up the feeling in the community.

“If you don’t live in the area, you don’t pick up on that kind of thing. Formal consultations are all very well, but you often pick up much more about an issue from the informal contacts you have.”

n Is it right for council chiefs to live outside the area they serve? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail