New joint cabinet to smooth transition to West Suffolk Council in 2019

The first joint cabinet committee will be held at West Suffolk House in Bury. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The first joint cabinet committee will be held at West Suffolk House in Bury. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Decisions affecting two west Suffolk councils ahead of its formal merger next year are set to be made by a new joint cabinet committee.

St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils currently operate their own cabinets, and have been running a joint informal cabinet to iron out differences in procedure ahead of the two councils’ merger in 2019.

However, a report published ahead of tomorrow’s St Edmundsbury Borough Council annual council meeting said that members have found that the “meetings can be confusing” as decisions still have to go to the individual councils’ own cabinets.

Now, a new joint cabinet committee comprising all the cabinet members at both authorities will meet and be able to make decisions affecting the merger and both areas.

A spokesman on behalf of the councils said: “To make things a bit easier, and getting ready for the coming West Suffolk Council, what they have done is formalise a joint committee. In this meeting we have got two leaders and up to 18 cabinet members.

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“It’s just a little bit of procedure to make things a bit easier.”

Both councils will still operate their own cabinets for the next year, which will make decisions in their own localities, but joint decisions affecting the formation of West Suffolk Council can be made at the joint cabinet.

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The formal merger is due to begin in May 2019 after the elections, when one cabinet is set to be formed.

The report added that the proposals “maintain the ability of either council to still have its own individual cabinet meeting if it wished”.

The matter went before Forest Heath’s annual council meeting last week, and is set to go ahead at the St Edmundsbury annual council meeting tomorrow afternoon.

The first informal joint cabinet meeting will be held at 6pm on Tuesday at West Suffolk House in Bury St Edmunds.

The two councils are among several in the county pursuing a merged authority.

Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils are undergoing work to merge as East Suffolk Council next year, while Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are working together.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk however opted to freeze their process while the county council pursued discussions over a potential unitary authority.

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