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Secretary of State gives his seal of approval to Waveney and Suffolk Coastal merger

07 November, 2017 - 17:41
Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal, with Rt Hon Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for communities and local government and Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council, at a recent meeting ahead of the decision. Picture: Courtesy of Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal, with Rt Hon Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for communities and local government and Mark Bee, leader of Waveney District Council, at a recent meeting ahead of the decision. Picture: Courtesy of Suffolk Coastal District Council.

Archant

Plans to create a new ‘super district council’ for east Suffolk have been given the seal of approval by the Secretary of State for communities and local government.

Waveney District Council's headquarters at the Riverside building in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher.Waveney District Council's headquarters at the Riverside building in Lowestoft. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are among the first in the country to create a new single authority for the area to deliver vital services to their communities.

And the proposal moved an important step closer today by gaining the formal backing of the Rt Hon Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for communities and local government.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, he said: “Having carefully considered all the material and representations I have received, I am ‘minded to’ implement the locally-led proposal I received from Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils in February 2017 to merge their two respective councils to become a single, new district council.”

Mr Javid said he considers that the proposal is likely to improve local government in the area by improving service delivery, giving greater value for money, yielding cost savings, providing stronger strategic and local leadership and delivering more sustainable structures.

Suffolk Coastal District Council's headquarters in Melton. Picture: Archant.Suffolk Coastal District Council's headquarters in Melton. Picture: Archant.

He said there is evidence of a good deal of local support and the proposed merged area is a credible geography and would facilitate joint working between local authorities.

He also confirmed that the east Suffolk proposal was breaking new ground, adding: “I intend to assess any further locally-led merger proposals that I receive against these criteria.”

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils believe this is the first time that the Secretary of State has given his backing to such a plan.

Before he makes a final decision, Mr Javid gave those involved until January 8, 2018, to make any further representation to him, including making any suggested modifications to the proposals.

He will then make his final decision, which will be subject to Parliamentary approval.

The ‘minded to’ decision gives the councils the go ahead to proceed with getting everything in place to make the creation of a new council in May 2019 a reality.

Ray Herring and Mark Bee, leaders of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Council, said: “This is great news for us and the people of east Suffolk. By creating a new, larger and more influential council, we will be able to continue to drive costs down, which maintaining services and investing in our local communities.

“We have a proud record of achieving success through innovative partnership working between Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Council. We are glad that the Secretary of State has recognised that the creation of this new ‘super district’ is the next logical step for us to take, if we are to keep on reducing costs while protecting frontline services.

“We need to evolve, if we are to successfully address the shared opportunities and challenges that both councils face, such as the significant reductions in Central Government funding for councils and the need for investment in growth and infrastructure projects, as well as providing more much-needed housing.”

In January this year, both councils voted to approve the proposals for the new council. It is believed this is the first time two councils have voted to formally join together to create a single entity since the local government reorganisation in 1974.

A business case was then submitted to the Department of Communities and Local Government in February.

If approved, the new council would begin operations following the local council elections in May 2019. The two existing councils would then be formally dissolved with elections to the new authority.

• What do you think of the proposal? Email lowestoft.journal@archant.co.uk or write to Lowestoft Journal, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1NB.

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