Comment: Don't forget the taxpayers still want value for money - locally, says Editor Barry Peters
Everyone seems to be rushing headlong into making savings – we change energy suppliers at the drop of a hat; we change our bank for better deals; we push ahead with business streamlining to save cash.
That’s the current position with our local council. And the key word there is local. Minister Sajid Javid is now ‘minded to implement’ the plans to replace Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, both of which put forward the plans, with a new council for West Suffolk.
Greater value for money, stronger strategic and local leadership have all been promised, as you would expect. Some might wonder if that means the current councillors and officials are lacking strategic and local leadership. That’s for another time.
So what of us, the users? Mr Javid said the change made sense as the two councils already share geography. You know as well as I do that the ‘geography’ of Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds is very different and they are already under one council. Imagine that scenario amplified and you see the potential issues of a lack of localness emerging. And do you think that the mergers will stop here?
I’m sure the Whitehall bean counters already have their pencils sharpened to look at further efficiencies – who is to say that a councillor from Beccles won’t one day be ruling on a planning application from West Row?
Saving cash makes sense. But only if sensible decisions can still be made.