Residents back merger proposals for Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils

Babergh council leader John Ward with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley. Picture: P

Babergh council leader John Ward with his opposite number from Mid Suffolk, Nick Gowrley. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Plans to merge Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils have received a boost after a clear majority of those surveyed backed the proposals.

However opposition politicians say many people are still unconvinced – and feel that the move could still be defeated.

And the whole exercise could be taken over by events if Suffolk County Council decides to attempt to become a unitary authority in a few years’ time.

Pollsters Comres were commissioned by the councils to speak to 4,000 residents – 2,000 from each council area – between October and February.

They found that in Babergh 54% of those surveyed were in favour of merger once they had heard details of the proposal with 35% against. In Mid Suffolk the figure was 69% in favour and 22% against.

In the 2011 referendum on merger, Babergh voted against the proposal although there was a majority in favour in Mid Suffolk.

Babergh council leader John Ward said: “This independent telephone survey, which asked a representative sample of the local population, shows that seven years on from the previous referendum on this issue, more people in Babergh are now in favour of the creation of a single council than those who are not.”

Most Read

Mid Suffolk leader Nick Gowrley said: “The results of this independent telephone survey reinforces the views expressed by Mid Suffolk electors in the 2011 referendum, and clearly show that more residents in Mid Suffolk are in favour and unconcerned about the proposed creation of a single council than there were back in 2011.”

However the leader of the Green group on Mid Suffolk, Andrew Stringer, said that the raw figures showed support for a merger in his council was slipping: “In 2011 there was 59% support for the merger – now its down to 55% when the question is first asked without new prompts. That suggests support for such a move is falling.”

Babergh Labour councillor Luke Cresswell said: “If, after leading questions and Tory propaganda, they only get a slight lead in an opinion poll, it’s good news for those of us opposing the merger.

“Only 10% of those who took part in the poll said they had enough knowledge on the subject to have an opinion. Nobody trusts these polls, you can make a poll say whatever you like.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter