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Suffolk councils are ‘leading the way’

Derrick Haley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council ANL-140416-220313009

Derrick Haley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council ANL-140416-220313009

Two of the county’s district councils are leading the way in shared services following a radical overhaul of the way they operate.

Over the last two years Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils’ back room staff have joined forces, saving £1.8 million a year across the both authorities.

Mid Suffolk leader Derrick Haley said the reorganisation was ahead of the curve, and a shining example to other local councils across the country.

He said: “In the last three or four years Suffolk has shown how to change and adapt the local government model to still deliver what the community wants.

“If you look at the last two years there has been a complete overhaul of the way we work.
“We now have one operating team of staff across both councils.

“And we did this without any compulsory redundancies which is something to be applauded. It is about being more flexible, more business-like and giving the staff more freedom.

“We really are doing so many innovative things in this county.

“It is no longer ‘sleepy Suffolk’ - far from it.”

Derrick said the with the government reducing the money given to local councils each year, the integration of their operating teams was vital in cutting the cost of running the councils.

“We are now saving £1.8million a year across the two councils,” he said.

“This means the future is more optimistic and more secure.
“Slowly but surely the amount in grant money from the government is tapering off and these councils that haven’t changed the way they are working have a major surprise coming.

“We have been ahead of the curve all the way.”

Although he said the restructuring had been a huge success, Derrick added the two councils still face huge challenges in the future.

He said work shops were conducted within local communities to work out key priorities and identify where attention should be focused.

“The big three areas highlighted were economic growth, housing and health and wellbeing.

“Rather than trying to do everything we zeroed in on the big three.

“One big priority is trying to provide more housing, for me it’s our biggest priority.

“But you cannot have housing without employment.

“You have to have this balance, there’s no good providing homes without jobs.

“You need to try and work out the best way to integrate the two.”

With the two district councils working closer than ever before, Derrick said other councils around the country saw Suffolk as a shining example of how to cut overheads while still delivering services.

He said: “We share the good times and the bad times. There is far more collaboration between all the local authorities in Suffolk and we are looking at more ways of working together.
“When talking about local authorities people often say go to Suffolk to see how it is done.

“What has been achieved here is a bit of a revolution.
“In the last few years Suffolk has shown how to change and adapt the local government model to still deliver what the community needs.”

 

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