Council aims to save services

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A TROUBLE-shooting team has been set up to battle the crisis in county council funding which threatens Needham Market libraries, youth clubs and waste sites.

The town council has put together a new working group of councillors to take a strategic view on the future of town facilities.

The group, initially comprising five town councillors, the town clerk and a county councillor, will hold its first meeting on Monday.

It is a direct response to Suffolk County Council’s Strategic Spending Review which plans to hive off many local services to the community.

The town has already been told vital bus links are being slashed.

Bus services serving Needham Market residents and commuters are soon due to be cut.

The service which runs from Ipswich through Needham Market to Stowmarket or Stowupland and operates seven days a week is due to be reduced.

The weekday evening services and Sunday buses will also be axed as part of a county council public transport budget cut.

Kevin Hunter, Needham Market Town Council clerk, said: “The group will be looking at planning the future of the town.

“The initial meeting will take place to agree the purpose of the group, the structure of the group and what issues will be our priorities.”

Mr Hunter added: “We will look at issues such as divestment of libraries and youth clubs, look at what the options might be for the future and funding that might be available.”

Neighbouring Stowmarket household waste recycling centre may also face closure, as Suffolk County Council moves to save £2.3 million in waste services.

The proposal is to close seven of the county’s 18 sites and reduce opening hours on the remaining sites. It is still unclear as to which sites will face closure.

Mr Hunter said: “Stowmarket is a very important site and there will be a strong feeling about its retention.”

Needham Market’s libraries and youth clubs are now facing trouble, and the town council has decided to act by setting up this new working group in an effort to safeguard them.

“We will pursue the retention of those facilities one way or another,” said Mr Hunter.

n New town clerk for Stowmarket – see Page 28.