December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The leaders of two Suffolk councils last night moved to scotch reports that they are planning to merge their administrations into a single headquarters in Ipswich.
Needham Market-based Mid Suffolk and Hadleigh-based Babergh district councils, which are in the process of integrating services, have just agreed to commission an independent review to determine whether either of their main office buildings could be shared with other agencies, or if the sites could be developed or sold.
Yesterday, it was reported that they were looking to establish a single centre of operations and were considering moving to Ipswich next to the county council headquarters at Endeavour House.
But Babergh council leader Jennie Jenkins described the suggestion as “conjecture” and said the authorities did not have any specific new headquarters in mind, whether in Ipswich, in either of the two districts or elsewhere.
She added: “Indeed, the review does not even assume that a new combined HQ is definitely needed or is desirable – to do so would be to jump to a whole set of unproven conclusions.
“Rather the first stage is essentially focussed on the research, consultation, time frames and identification of options that the councils could practically achieve.
“We will hopefully then be in a position where we are able to establish and evaluate suitable options.”
The current office buildings cost the councils around £1.1million a year to run. Following the integration of services during the past two years and subsequent reduction in staff, large areas of the offices have been left empty and unused.
A spokeswoman for both authorities said a bigger than expected cut in government grants had forced them to take a “serious” look at their accommodation needs.
However, Mid Suffolk’s leader Derrick Haley said the review assumed that it was vital for both councils to maintain – and through the use of new technologies seek to expand – their availability to the communities they serve.
He added: “Such a flexible approach will further improve the working relationships and mutual understanding between our councils and those communities.”