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Council merger poses challenges for Suffolk's smallest town, says new group

PUBLISHED: 05:30 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:38 01 May 2019

The Together for Clare group says the new West Suffolk Council poses challenges for Suffolk's smallest town Picture: TOGETHER FOR CLARE

The Together for Clare group says the new West Suffolk Council poses challenges for Suffolk's smallest town Picture: TOGETHER FOR CLARE

Archant

A council merger will bring benefits, but also poses challenges for the future of Suffolk's smallest town, according to a new group.

Working Together for Clare, which is a group of nine candidates standing in the local elections on May 2, says that under the new West Suffolk Council, Clare will be competing with much larger towns to get its voice heard.

West Suffolk Council formed in April following a merger between St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council.

Suzanne Culshaw, a spokeswoman for the group, said: “Under St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Clare was the third largest town, with our own councillor, and our views and concerns were listened to and carried weight.

“Under the bigger West Suffolk Council we will be competing with much larger towns such as Newmarket, Brandon, Mildenhall and Bury to get our voice heard and fight for the resources we need if Clare is to continue to thrive.

“If we do not have a very strong and united voice for Clare then we will slip back and become a small fish in a considerably larger pond.”

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She added that the group believes that Clare needs to be much more active to ensure the town's needs are met.

“There will be three district councillors representing the bigger area of Clare, Hundon and Kedington and none of the candidates live in Clare.

“While I'm sure they will do their best for Clare, the town council has to raise its own game quite considerably.

“We are delighted that as a group, Working Together for Clare has nine candidates with a range of backgrounds and, most importantly, we have five candidates who are parents with young families in Clare. As a strong team they will all ensure that its voice is heard.”

West Suffolk Council would not comment in the pre-election period but a business case study released last year said the new single west Suffolk authority would be “the right size to continue to represent and support our local villages, towns and communities but with a larger and stronger unified voice to more effectively lobby government and attract internationally recognised businesses”.

The document added that “residents would benefit from a renewed democratic relationship with a new body and the opportunity of forging new relationships with communities”.

* There are 16 candidates standing for nine seats in Clare in Thursday's elections.

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