Forest Heath: leader promises to do more with less

A SLIMMED-down council will be “fit for business” and in future could be able to deliver “simple” services such as road maintenance, leaders have claimed.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said the creation of a joint management team across west Suffolk and the sharing of services with St Edmundsbury Borough Council left both authorities in the position to “do more with less”.

The initiatives, which are designed to save �2.3million from its budgets by 2014/2015, meant the shedding of seven senior positions with further redundancies likely in the future.

The councils’ chief executive Ian Gallin is also in negotiations with Unison over moves towards a single pay line, which could mean some workers face wage cuts if their pay is lowered to match their counterparts in a different ward.

But Mr Waters said the streamlined service could enable the council to expand what it could offer.

He added: “I think also that we will be looking to deliver more services – services maybe that Suffolk County Council deliver from Ipswich.”

Mr Waters said it might be possible in the future to second county council staff into offices in Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury to “deliver on the ground”.

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He added: “We know the local area, so with simple things like potholes, we could actually deliver value for money if we can do those roles.

“If you look at it in a business context, we are actually scaling down staff to make ourselves fit for business.”

Mr Waters said the restructure was about “making ourselves value for money” and added that the council’s services could expand outside of its borders.

“If we can deliver something cheaper than someone else, we will do that. We are here for the long haul,” he said.