Council structure unchanged for nearly 40 years

The Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council Buildings on Russell Road in Ipswich.

The Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council Buildings on Russell Road in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The council structure in Suffolk has been largely unchanged for almost 40 years – since the reforms of the Heath government in the early 1970s.

Most of the county has a three-tier structure, with parish, district and the county council. There are no parishes in Ipswich or Lowestoft.

District and borough councils are responsible for planning applications, housing policy, parks, collecting council tax, collecting rubbish, and leisure services.

The county is responsible for roads, social services, education policy, waste disposal, ensuring there is a library service, and transport policy.

There have been attempts to change the structure at least twice over the last 20 years – but while there were changes in other parts of the country, Suffolk’s local government structure has remained unchanged.

However there have recently been administrative changes.

Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils now share the same administration split across two sites in Needham Market and Hadleigh.

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St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath share a chief executive and are also moving towards a full merger of services under the banner West Suffolk council.

And Waveney and Suffolk Coastal were among the first districts in the country to share a chief executive. They now also share some senior managers, and are moving towards closer working.

Suffolk County Council shares offices with St Edmundsbury in Bury St Edmunds and is building a new shared office with Waveney in Lowestoft.

However Ipswich Council, the only Labour-controlled council in Suffolk, retains its independence from its Grafton House headquarters which overlook the county’s Endeavour House headquarters.

It does, however share some services with neighbouring councils – especially the revenue collection services which it shares with Babergh and Mid Suffolk.