Babergh/ Mid Suffolk: Row erupts over council merger claim

THE leader of Mid Suffolk District Council has hit back at “gross misrepresentations” made by colleagues in Babergh about the proposed merger between the authorities.

Tim Passmore said he found it “quite extraordinary” that the leaders on three of the four party groups on Babergh District Council had issued a joint statement questioning the merger, which both authorities have voted to proceed with.

The views of residents across the two areas are currently being sought through a poll but Sue Carpendale, the Lib Dem group leader on Babergh, Sue Wigglesworth, the Independent group leader, and Tony Bavington, the council’s Labour group leader, claim people are “not getting the full facts”.

In a statement they said: “To abolish Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils is a big decision. There are pro’s and con’s to this action but only the potential benefits are being highlighted in the official literature sent out with the voting forms.

“No councillor is against the principle of making extra savings but the costs, financially and democratically, could be greater than people realise.

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“Financially, we believe there are important differentials between the two authorities – many councillors believe that these are significant, they are potentially to Babergh’s disadvantage, and should not be discounted.”

Mr Passmore said the councillors were not looking at the bigger picture.

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He said: “Why are they saying this now? Why weren’t they saying this three months ago? At the end of the day both councils voted for the merger. The whole thing is preposterous.”

Mr Passmore said the councillors’ statement sent out a confusing message to businesses and residents.

He added: “Mrs Wigglesworth and Mrs Carpendale have both sat on the implementation board and have been in favour of the merger and both ladies were also on the appointments panel for our new chief executive.

“To start a campaign against the merger now after all the work by officers and councillors is a disgrace since they were both in favour of the plans before the elections and had voted accordingly.”

He claimed the outspoken councillors were “burying their heads in the sand” and only thinking about themselves and their seats.

He added: “At Mid Suffolk the Liberals, Greens, Independents and ourselves are all taking a mature view about the future.

“It seems that some of the councillors at Babergh are being economical with the truth concerning levels of debt and how this is financed in the public sector. “They should examine their conscience or perhaps go and learn how finance works or even how to add up with the aid of an abacus – unless of course they are completely bonkers.”

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