Mid Suffolk/Babergh: Responses to districts’ possible Ipswich move to Suffolk County Council offices
The leaders of two towns have reacted to news that Mid Suffolk and Babergh could be leaving their headquarters.
District councillors will meet next week to discuss options which include moving away from the councils’ current bases in Hadleigh and Needham Market for a new main administration office in Ipswich.
Along with the move, satellite offices could be set up in the main Mid Suffolk and Babergh towns.
Hadleigh’s mayor Sue Angland said Babergh would still need a presence in the town.
“The current numbers of staff at Babergh have reduced over the last five years so the impact on the town as an employer would not be as great as it might have been years ago.
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“We understand the economic situation but the satellite offices would have to be accessible to the public. Ipswich is accessible for the people of Mid Suffolk and Babergh so I can see the thinking there.”
Despite the councils’ merging services and staff in recent years, around 560 employees still work for them.
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The move to Ipswich would mean relocating to Suffolk County Council’s headquarters, Endeavour House. This is expected to improve communication between the authorities and make the districts more efficient.
Other options available to consider include basing the new administration office in the Ipswich fringe area – potentially near the A14 – but still setting up the satellite offices.
Kevin Hunter, town clerk at Needham Market Town Council, said a move away from the town would be “very significant”.
“One assumes there’s not going to be a future headquarters in the town which is something that does not come as a surprise but nevertheless is very significant for the town,” he said.
“It is something that the town council would not ideally like to see but we recognise the nature of the changes that are going on at district council level.”
He added the town council would look for “positive benefits” if the move went ahead.
Both districts’ current offices each cost around £1million a year to run at a time when further Whitehall cuts to their budgets are expected.
Andrew Hunkin, Mid Suffolk and Babergh’s corporate director, has said that cuts of almost £2m are expected by 2018.
Mid Suffolk will meet on Monday to discuss the proposals at 10am. Babergh will convene on Thursday at 4.30pm.