New plans for a West Suffolk Council backed in St Edmundsbury

27 Sep 2017

Proposals to create a new West Suffolk council to drive prosperity, jobs and meet future challenges have been backed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

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.

Both the Council and Cabinet met this evening, Tuesday 26 September, and agreed the business case should go to Government subject to approval by Forest Heath who are set to discuss it tomorrow.

The business case has been informed by a programme of engagement which saw 70% of residents back the initiative in an independent poll.

The business case suggested 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.

Forest Heath District Council will discuss the proposals tomorrow, Wednesday, at their meeting. If they support the proposals the business case will be sent to the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government for a Parliamentary order to be made.

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.

“Other neighbouring authorities not only see our vision but also want to be part of our success story and are already asking to meet. They see how closer working with a larger authority can bring greater investment, transport and housing improvements in our region.”

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