“Historic” district council merger agreed

Suffolk: Two district councils serving east Suffolk have voted to merge their senior management teams, at what was described as an “historic and unique” meeting.

Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council’s cabinets met last night for a simultaneous meeting where councillors voted for the new collaborative work.

Four director posts will be shared between the two authorities along with nine heads of service positions – creating estimated savings of around �400,000.

At the meeting at Wenhaston Village Hall last night the joint chief executive of both councils, Stephen Baker, said: “This has been described as an historic event. It is certainly a unique event – the first simultaneous cabinet meeting between two councils in the East of England.”

At the meeting, chaired by Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, cabinet members and backbenchers for both councils were reassured the move would result in no compulsory redundancies.

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He said now the move has been approved the next step will be to review all services to see where other savings can be achieved through sharing resources.

Mr Baker said it will require “a new style of working” with the changes “affecting everyone.”

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The councils will remain as “sovereign councils” sharing their senior management team.

As well as a shared chief executive they already share their head of planning Philip Ridley.

Responding to Waveney councillor John Shanahan’s concerns the move would threaten service delivery as the changes are implemented, Mr Baker added: “I won’t accept any blip in service delivery as a result of the change.”

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