West Suffolk councils to create single authority

West Suffolk councillors are considering plans to create a new single council to meet future challenges and better drive prosperity in the region.

Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council have already demonstrated that sharing services work can be effective, having achieved an annual savings of £4 million.

Councillor James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council and Councillor John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council have issued a statement of intent calling for both authorities to look at creating one single body for west Suffolk.

The changes, which would be based on current district and borough council services and boundaries, would mean an even greater ability to: deliver services vital for our communities while at the same time drive forward an ambitious vision of growth, jobs and economic prosperity for our unique area; future proof for the next decade and beyond - to ensure a firm financial base and stability to meet the challenges faced by our communities such as health, need for homes and reduced national funding; and consolidate the savings and efficiencies we have made and make even more that can be reinvested to work with and benefit our communities.

Griffiths said: “I think most people care more that we are delivering services in the most effective way than they do about council structures, boundaries and processes. They want us to be forward thinking and not let structure get in the way of providing jobs, opportunity and continued vibrant communities. We have already achieved much working together and sharing services, directly benefiting our communities. That has given us the firm financial footing and now a golden opportunity to look at how to even better meet future challenges, drive growth and prosperity while continuing to deliver high quality services.

“We already work closely but this could enable us to be both stronger together and more fleet of foot, to grasp commercial opportunities to further benefit our communities, deliver housing and talk to big business and government. At the same time we would remain small enough to actually deliver the real local initiatives in west Suffolk that are vital.”

Waters added: “Our communities want to make sure we are constantly looking to improve and transform the way we work. That we not only deliver services but help create jobs, support residents and drive the local economy. We are an attractive area to live in and for developers and business to invest in - uniquely positioned with good networks and are an internationally renowned area with a range of industries from racing to high-tech to agriculture.

“Residents do not care what logo is on their bin but that we continue to empty them in the most cost effective way. At the same time they want us to fight their corner nationally to make sure we get the best deal from government.”