Map shows how Suffolk could lose councillors – but will it ever happen?

Could Suffolk have fewer councillors? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Could Suffolk have fewer councillors? Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A new map showing how Suffolk County Council could lose five members at its next reorganisation has been published by the Boundary Commission – but its proposals may well never be implemented.

A shake-up of Suffolk County Council had been due to be introduced in time for next May’s council elections but, because of the pandemic and lockdown, this has now been put back to the 2025 poll.

But the government is currently preparing a White Paper on the future of local authorities in England – and there is speculation that this could see the abolition of the current two-tier system with county and district/borough councils.

They would be replaced with a unitary system, with a single authority carrying out all council functions.

MORE: What is the future for Suffolk’s local councils?

The new map of Suffolk, produced by the Boundary Commission for England, would create 70-single seat divisions. At present, there are 75 councillors representing 51 single-member divisions and 12 dual-member seats.

It was always proposed that there should be a reduction in the number of councillors and there was a public consultation at the end of last year to give local residents the chance to say which communities should go together to elect a councillor.

The map should have been published earlier in the year, which would have given time for the changes to be introduced in time for next May – but the lockdown delay has meant that is now not possible.

Residents can comment on the proposed map until November 23. Details of the proposals can be found here.

The new map has been published as the government prepares to publish a White Paper on local government – which could lead to major changes for Suffolk.

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There has been speculation that the county could be split into two, or even three, unitary councils running all services from rubbish collection to running social services.

This could be West Suffolk, East Suffolk and possibly a “Greater Ipswich” council – although with officials hinting that new councillors would have to have a population of at least 300-400,000 the three-council option looks unlikely. It is also possible that the government could scrap districts and transfer their powers to an expanded county council.

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