27 Sep 2017
Proposals to create a new West Suffolk council to drive prosperity, jobs and meet future challenges will now be sent to Government to consider.
The move follows a meeting tonight of Forest Heath District Council and Cabinet at which members agreed a new single council should be created for West Suffolk.
The new authority, which also has strong support from local residents, businesses and public services, would replace Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils.
Proposals for the new council were backed on Tuesday night by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and endorsed by Cabinet.
The business case has been informed by a programme of engagement which saw 70% of residents back the initiative in an independent poll.
It suggests the new council could better drive jobs, deliver services and continue investment to support local communities than the current arrangement. In addition it would generate around £800,000 in savings and efficiencies and help protect the additional £4 million of annual savings already produced by sharing services.
At the same time a new council would also better support, invest in and meet the challenges facing communities, such as increased population, demand on health care and housing as well as reduced funding nationally.
The engagement process was designed to inform residents, businesses, partners and stakeholders of the proposals as well as giving people an opportunity to have their say if they wished. The results were then to be used by councillors in their debate.
More than 160 partners, representatives, local organisations and councils were contacted directly to explain the draft business case.
The business case will now be sent to the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government for a Parliamentary order to be made.
Forest Heath District Councillor James Waters, said: “Doing what is right for our communities is at the heart of what we do. The benefits to our residents is clear and support we have had from local people, businesses and local organisations is compelling. Staying still is not an option if we are to meet future challenges and better champion our communities, both locally and nationally, as well as continuing to deliver high quality services. This means we are not only in a better position to have a louder voice but a real opportunity to find even more effective ways to work more closely and support our local organisations and residents. I look forward to helping create this new single council.”
St Edmundsbury Borough Council Leader, Councillor John Griffiths, said: “We have listened to local residents and organisations who agree lines on a map or council structures should not get in the way of providing services, opportunity and continued investment in our communities. The case for creating a new single council was compelling and once again puts us at the forefront of transforming how local government works to benefit directly the people we serve. Not only can we continue to deliver high quality services but we can better champion our area, drive the local economy, jobs and prosperity in West Suffolk while tackling the challenges facing all public services.