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Proposed merger of Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council to single authority has local support, says report

West Suffolk House (Council Offices) in Bury. Picture PHIL MORLEY

West Suffolk House (Council Offices) in Bury. Picture PHIL MORLEY

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A proposed merger of two authorities to create a new West Suffolk Council has the support of local residents and businesses, according to a new report.

Both Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which would be replaced by the new single authority, will discuss the report next week.

The business case report, informed by a programme of engagement, suggests the new council could better drive jobs, deliver services and meet future challenges than the current arrangement.

In addition, the creation of new single council would generate around £800,000 in savings, according to the business case.

An independent poll, carried out by ComRes, found 70% of residents support the creation of a new West Suffolk Council.

The engagement process was designed to inform residents, businesses, partners and stakeholders of the proposals as well as giving people the chance to have their say.

The results of the engagement will now help councillors as part of their decision making at meetings held by both authorities next week – St Edmundsbury Borough Council on September 26 and Forest Heath District Council on September 27.

Councillor John Griffiths, St Edmundsbury Borough Council leader, said: “Once again we are at the forefront of transforming how local Government can better support communities and businesses with a strong and compelling argument to take the next step.

“The tremendous benefits for the communities we serve and the support for us to create a new single council is overwhelming. The business case clearly shows creating a new single council will give us a better ability to drive the local economy, jobs and prosperity in West Suffolk. We have listened to local residents and organisations who agree that structure should not get in the way of providing services, opportunity and continued investment in our vibrant communities.

Councillor James Waters, from Forest Heath District Council, said: “The support we have had from residents, businesses and local organisations is compelling and will be taken into consideration as we debate the business case.

“It is clear staying still is not an option if we are to meet future challenges. A new council will mean we can better champion our communities both locally and nationally as well as continuing to deliver high quality services.”

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