Mixed reaction to merger idea for Great Cornard and Sudbury councils

Councillor Peter Beer pictured next to the Great Cornard sign.

Councillor Peter Beer pictured next to the Great Cornard sign. - Credit: Gregg Brown

A proposal to merge a parish council with the neighbouring town of Sudbury has provoked a mixed reaction from local people.

The contentious idea of joining Great Cornard Parish and Sudbury Town councils to form a single body was recently put forward by local councillors from both areas.

It was prompted by a letter from Cornard Parish Council asking for a seat on the Sudbury Steering Group, which is made up of representatives from organisations with an interest in the town.

The letter said that issues such as the current plans to move Sudbury bus station have a big impact on the Cornard community, which has more than 9,000 residents compared to around 13,000 in Sudbury.

However, at a meeting of the steering group on Friday, chairman Simon Barrett said the suggestion of Cornard Parish Council being represented on the group was “not feasible”.

He added: “Unfortunately, Cornard is just one parish that Sudbury borders. We also have Chilton, Twinstead, Acton, Great Waldingfield and numerous other villages and we wouldn’t be able to let Cornard have a seat on the steering group without everyone else wanting to come on board too.

“If that happened then we would just get too big and the whole point is that we exist to give a steer on Sudbury projects.”

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The idea of joining the two councils, which supporters say would enable them to save money by pooling resources and sharing staff, was then discussed. But steering group members were cautious about committing to the idea.

Sudbury town councillor John Sayers, who has served on both councils over the years, described the suggestion of a merger as “completely impractical”.

He said: “If Cornard were to merge with anyone then it should be Chilton Parish Council because they have a lot more in common.

“My feeling is that we were voted in to represent Sudbury so nothing should be done about it until the next election. Even then, it would need a lot more consideration.”

Babergh councillor Peter Beer, who lives in Great Cornard, believes the village would have more of a voice on key decisions if it was part of a larger council. He said it was in danger of being “left behind” as things currently stand. But Pam White, chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council, said she was against the idea of a merger. She believes Cornard would have more clout if it remained a separate entity.

The idea is expected to be debated at forthcoming council meetings in both Sudbury and Cornard.

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