Leaders call to look at ambitious plans for future of west Suffolk

09 May 2017

Council leaders John Griffiths and James Waters

Ambitious plans to create a new single council to meet future challenges and better drive prosperity in west Suffolk should be looked at say council leaders.

Already Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council have proved that sharing services work - having achieved annual savings of £4 million.

Now the leaders of both authorities want to build on that success, take the opportunity to look at the best way to meet future challenges and an even better ability to continue to deliver services while encouraging growth, jobs and supporting local communities.

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
  • Consolidate the savings and efficiencies we have made and make even more that can be reinvested to work with and benefit our communities.

The new council would continue the shared service working that has already saved millions. This would provide stability and deliver even more savings to invest back into services and community initiatives.

It would also be bigger and stronger to better meet current and future local and national challenges.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council Leader, Councillor John 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.”

Forest Heath District Council Leader, Councillor James Waters, said: “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.”

A single council would bring real and lasting benefits to all residents in the area. A new single council would give the area a greater ability to:

  • be stronger and financially resilient to surpass the challenges of reduced public funding and any changes to local government
  • be the right size to continue to support our local villages, towns and communities but with a larger and stronger unified voice to more effectively lobby Government and attract internationally recognised businesses
  • have a unified strategic vision for the whole area enabling us to be even more pro-active and able to capitalise on commercial opportunities
  • continue the shared service working that has saved millions and build on this to deliver even better value and savings to invest back into high quality services and local community initiatives
  • be better placed to offer extra support in many areas particularly working with communities to improve health and wellbeing
  • have the leadership available to work more effectively with partners and others to manage increased growth, jobs and challenges that will drive the local economy and benefit our communities
  • make sure we can provide more and the right kind of homes for our residents and cut unnecessary red tape for local businesses and traders
  • keep the same boundaries as the Borough and District Council our communities call home while having the long term stability to deliver high quality services.

Initially the Cabinet of both councils will have to agree to proposals going forward which would then need to be agreed by each Full Council.

West Suffolk future - Statement of intent

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