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Vision for Waveney District Council to be more 'business-like'

Waveney election 2015 count at Water Lane leisure centre, Lowestoft.
Conservative candidate Peter Aldous arrives for the count.

Waveney election 2015 count at Water Lane leisure centre, Lowestoft. Conservative candidate Peter Aldous arrives for the count.

© Archant 2015

A "culture change" is needed at a district council in order to make huge savings and grow its services for the future, its leader has said.

Waveney District Council leader Colin Law wrote to officers at the authority ahead of May’s local elections, in which all 48 seats on the authority were up for grabs, with clear instructions about exactly what his party would want if voted in.

Now the Conservatives have secured a majority with 27 seats, he is keen to press ahead with his vision to make the council “more business-like” by offering its services to outside private and public sector organisations.

But Sonia Barker – leader of the council’s Labour group, which forms the official opposition – said: “There comes a point where you’ve done all the reorganisation you can.

“Over the next few years it is going to be extremely difficult to find space where that can be done even more.”

Highlighting the old saying that: “If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got,” Mr Law said: “It’s all about growth. We’ve got to find ways to grow the council.

“When you look at our medium-term financial strategy, we’ve got a lot of money to find over four years which, when you’re looking at a budget of £13million a year, is tough.

“Of course that means we’re going to have to work very hard along with officers to ensure we deliver efficiency savings.

“However we’ve given clear instructions to officers prior to the election that they have got to be more forward-thinking, innovative and commercially-focused.

“We have to generate revenue and grow the business of the council, offering our services to the private sector and public sector.”

He said each of the council’s heads of service would have to “come onboard with that culture”.

But Mrs Barker said that local government staff were already highly professional and often more efficient than the private sector, with Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils sharing staff.

She also said that the council would have to see what impact its move to the new Riverside building would have before judging where further efficiencies can be made.

However she added: “It’s actually about joining the dots across all the services and make it more professional and efficient by not doubling up on things – that’s where things can improve.”

What do you think Waveney District Council’s priorities should be for the future? 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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