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'Historic' merger at councils to go ahead

PUBLISHED: 08:44 30 September 2010

THE "historic" merger of senior management at two Suffolk councils will begin tomorrow (Friday) after the structure was approved by councillors.

On Tuesday night, members of Waveney District Council backed the plans for a new, shared management structure with Suffolk Coastal District Council.

The two cabinets had previously met on September 13 and jointly agreed the merger.

The move has now been rubber-stamped by both full councils, but Waveney’s opposition group remains “very concerned” that it could lead to a fully merged council.

The new structure will see the two neighbouring Conservative-run authorities managed by one chief executive, four directors and nine heads of service - with an estimated saving of £400,000.

Mark Bee, leader of Waveney, said: “This is an historic evening for Waveney, creating a real opportunity to move forward, to do something special and help ensure we can continue to deliver to those who need us most of all.

“Our partnership with Suffolk Coastal has been in place for over two years and this is the most important step yet, underlining our joint determination to address the issues we face in the public sector while maintaining our focus on what matters most of all – the services we provide for our communities.”

Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal, said that, with looming funding cuts, the councils would be better placed to address “some very difficult challenges”. “I am absolutely delighted that we can now get on with the business of further delivering value for money for residents in our two districts,” he said.

Opposition councillor and Lowestoft Mayor Nigel Dack said that while the labour group understood that savings needed to be made, they did not want the joint management structure to lead to a single, joint council.

“We’re very concerned that in the future, there may well be a joining together of councils,” he said.

“It would be so strung out from Felixstowe to Lowestoft.”

The new structure will mean an overall reduction of five posts, four of which were vacant and one pending retirement.

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