Ministers consider merger of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney – decision expected soon

The Waveney District Council Riverside building in Canning Road. Picture: Nick Butcher.

The Waveney District Council Riverside building in Canning Road. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Further consultation will take place before the Government reaches a final decision on whether to allow two Suffolk councils to merge to create a 'super district' along the east coast.

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district have agreed to join to create the biggest council of its kind in the country to save taxpayers around £800,000 a year.

Marcus Jones, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said: 'We have received a proposal for a merger from Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils, which the Secretary of State will carefully consider together with any representations and supporting evidence before reaching an initial decision as to how he is minded to proceed.

'He intends to announce this initial decision as soon as practicable, after which there will be a reasonable period for those interested to submit representations, which the Secretary of State will carefully consider before reaching any final decision.'

At this stage it is not known when the extra consultation ahead of the minister's decision will take place.

However, the two councils are expecting final ratification of the decision to be made in September.

The councils will then be formally dissolved – with elections to the new authority in May 2019.

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If the go-ahead is given by Government, next year will be especially busy for the councils, which have been working in partnership since 2010 – having saved around £16million through various joint working practices.

They will need to make decisions about the number of councillors and their wards, merge departments and decide how operations will be carried out in future, and where staff, many of whom will be required to work more flexibly, will be based.

Stephen Baker, chief executive for the two councils, said: 'The challenge facing local government throughout the country is the need and desire to deliver the best possible services for local people in an increasingly challenging economic environment.

'At Suffolk Coastal and Waveney we have always sought to innovate and tackle these challenges head on. This is another excellent example of how we have taken a lead and made a progressive decision which we have no doubt will be watched and followed by other councils.'

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