Local members reject Sudbury and Cornard council merger

Friars Street shops in Sudbury.

Friars Street shops in Sudbury. - Credit: Archant

A controversial proposal to merge a parish council in west Suffolk with a neighbouring town council has been rejected by members of both bodies.

The idea of joining Great Cornard Parish and Sudbury Town councils to form a single organisation was initially put forward by a group of district councillors.

They say joining the two councils would enable them to save money by sharing staff and pooling resources.

The Babergh councillors behind the scheme, including Peter Beer and Simon Barrett, have suggested the proposal should be submitted as part of the Government’s Community Governance Review.

But the idea has received very little backing from local members and residents.

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At their recent meeting, Cornard Parish Council refused to even discuss the proposal officially, with council member Tony Bavington brushing it off as “speculation” and a “publicity stunt” by Babergh councillors.

Then at a meeting this week, members of Sudbury’s policy and resources committee voted six to two against the idea.

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Committee member Luke Cresswell said: “With both councils against any merge, the only avenue of support left would be the residents.

“If Mr Barrett has the courage of his convictions, he should put the proposal before the people of Sudbury and Cornard and hold a referendum.

“I believe it would be rejected and then we could get on with dealing with the real issues facing our town rather than tinkering with the structures for political reasons.”

Out of the two communities’ combined population of 22,000, more than 9,000 live in Great Cornard. Currently there are 16 Sudbury town councillors and 14 Great Cornard parish councillors which supporters of the merger say could be cut to 20 in total.

But Cornard councillor Tony Bavington criticised the merger proposal and said it would not save any money because parish councillors are not paid.

He added: “The logic is to abolish all boundaries and have one Greater Sudbury which would suck council tax in not just from the other parishes around Sudbury but from the eastern half of the Babergh District as a whole. Clearly this empire building would be bad governance and the opposite of localism.”

However, Mr Barrett still believes the idea is worth pursuing. He said: “The aims and the objectives of both councils are the same because everything that happens in Sudbury affects Great Cornard.

“People in Cornard want to have a say on issues like the Sudbury bus station proposals but they can’t because they are currently a separate parish.

“The way local government is organised is being reviewed all over the UK to see how services can be integrated to make councils more efficient. It makes sense to consider the idea seriously.”

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