Waveney and Suffolk Coastal councils set to consider potential merger

The Riverside offices in Lowestoft.

The Riverside offices in Lowestoft. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Two councils are considering a full-scale merger to help save taxpayers at least £800,000 per year at a time when the government is said to be 'cutting off its supply to Waveney'.

Rumours have been circulating for several weeks that Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils are thinking about amalgamating into one single authority for East Suffolk.

Claims made on a website that discussions over the merger were at an advanced stage were denied by Waveney last month.

However while stressing the proposals are still at a very early stage and would need to go through a full democratic process, the two councils have today revealed they will discuss the possibility at a joint meeting on Monday, March 14.

In a joint statement, Colin Law and Ray Herring - the leaders of Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils respectively - said their two authorities were already sharing resources and working more closely together.

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The councils have shared a chief executive since 2008 and senior managers since 2010.

'However in the current economic climate, when councils are being forced to put up council tax for the first time in six years, we recognise that we need to continue to explore new and innovative ways of making savings,' Mr Law and Mr Herring said.

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'If the councils decide to explore the possibility of a merger, because it is felt this will help us to deliver better services and provide better value for money.

'This would have to be agreed by both full councils, as well as there being public consultation and the Boundary Commission being involved.

'Any such proposal would be subject to a lengthy and full democratic process, which would be in the public domain over a period of years and would not be implemented before the 2019 elections.'

A report prepared for the March 14 cabinet meeting said a merger is 'perhaps the most natural extension of the current partnership'.

It added that it would deliver a minimum £800,000 per year saving 'without the need for any major organisational change' - but said: 'It would however involve political change both to a single leader and cabinet, and a review of the total number of councillors and wards.

'A single district council for East Suffolk would be the largest district council by population in England and may therefore provide the district with greater influence nationally, regionally and in Suffolk.'

? What do you think about the suggestion of merging two councils? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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