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Babergh/Mid Suffolk: Referendum on councils merging is not ruled out. What do you think? Should Babergh and Mid Suffolk join together as one authority?

12:18 20 June 2014

Babergh District Council, Corks Lane, Hadleigh.

Babergh District Council, Corks Lane, Hadleigh.

Archant

A referendum into the potential merger of two Suffolk councils has not been ruled out – despite electors voting it down three years ago.

Andrew Hunkin, a strategic director for Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils, made the admission at Needham Market Town Council on Wednesday.

He was discussing the ongoing review of the councils’ headquarters – which could see the
scrapping of the bases in Hadleigh and Needham.

Kevin Hunter, Needham’s town clerk, asked Mr Hunkin whether a referendum was being considered.

“There are no discussions around a further referendum but no-one is saying there will never be,” Mr Hunkin said.

“It’s about integration, that’s as far as we are going at the moment.”

Earlier he warned councillors how the government was only half way through its austerity plan. Mid Suffolk is expected to have its main funding from Whitehall cut from its current level of £4.4million to £2.6m in 2018.

The 2011 referendum, which asked if residents wanted Mid Suffolk and Babergh to merge into one council, was narrowly rejected.

Mr Hunkin believes a number of options will be put to the councils as they consider what to do with their headquarters.

Both councils have stressed that no decision has yet been made. If the headquarters did go then satellite offices are expected to be set up.

Josephine Lea, who was acting mayor for the evening, said: “For Needham Market to have Mid Suffolk move out would be a big issue.”

Last year Mid Suffolk leader, Derrick Haley, said the councils would have to revisit the idea of them merging.

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