‘Historic moment’ as West Suffolk Council goes to parliament

Cabinet members of both Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury agree the order to form a new single council

Cabinet members of both Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury agree the order to form a new single council. Picture: ST EDMUNDSBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

An order to create a new single council in West Suffolk will go before MPs after a historic unanimous decision was made by councillors this week.

Members of both Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinets met on Tuesday to agree the order following backing from both full councils last week.

The new single authority - West Suffolk Council – would replace both current councils and a programme of engagement saw 70% of residents back the initiative in an independent poll.

Both councils put the proposals forward – which were also supported by secretary of state earlier this month.

The new council would better drive jobs, deliver services and continue investment as well as generating around £800,000 in savings by sharing services, according to councillors.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said: “This decision is a historic moment for our authorities as we create a new West Suffolk Council.

“I was pleased to see the amount of support there has been for this new council from councillors as well as partners and our communities.

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“The speed at which this has moved from May last year to going to parliament following gaining the support of the secretary of state has is a clear indication of the strength of our case.

“We are now leading the way in transforming local government, ahead of some councils that started before us. It is also a strong recognition of the part we play now and in the future in helping drive the economy.

“Doing what is right for our communities is at the heart of what we do. Staying still is not an option if we are to meet future challenges and better champion our communities, both locally and nationally, as well as continuing to deliver high quality services.”

John Griffiths, St Edmundsbury Borough Council leader, said: “This is a new chapter in our work to find better ways of supporting our communities and driving jobs and prosperity.

“There has been overwhelming support for these proposals which puts us in a better position to meet the aspirations of our communities.

“We have listened to local residents and organisations who agree lines on a map or council structures should not get in the way of providing services or hamper us from seizing opportunities for continued investment in our communities.

“The case for creating a new single council was compelling and once again puts us at the forefront of transforming how local government works to benefit directly the people we serve.

It is hoped that the orders will be laid in parliament in March this year and elections for the new council held in May 2019.

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