Merger plans move forward

SENIOR councillors approved important details surrounding proposals to merge Mid Suffolk District Council and Babergh District Council at a meeting on Monday.

Members of Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) executive committee unanimously backed the proposed merger plans and approved recommendations concerning the integration of services with Babergh and the possible creation of one single council.

The recommendations, including a proposed date for the potential merger, possible size of the council and details of the public poll, will now go to full council in Babergh on Tuesday and in Mid Suffolk on Thursday.

Councillors received recommend-ations from the Joint Member Implementation Board (JMIB) which proposes creation of a single council in April 2013.

The plans are a cost-cutting move which will inevitably see job losses but will result in savings of about £1.3 million a year.

The JMIB also presented details of the local public poll, which councillors agreed should be carried out for four weeks commencing May 9.

This would involve a ballot paper going out to each local government elector registered to vote in Mid Suffolk and Babergh to establish the views of the electorate on the possible merger.

MSDC executive also approved the recommendation for a council made up of between 50 and 60 councillors. A report on council size and constitution said: “A council of some 50-60 members would be able to provide efficient and effective overall political leadership and management of the council while also providing adequate capacity for all councillors to fulfil their local representational role in their own ward.”

The future of the merger plans will be decided at separate full council meetings next week.

Proposals will then go to local public poll to determine whether the merger will happen.

Integration of services will still go ahead and recruitment for a single chief executive to head both councils is already under way.