Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Council merger put on hold

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich

Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils have put controversial merger plans on hold.

The move is in response to a Suffolk County Council review on forming a single council for the county.

The leaders of Mid Suffolk and Babergh say it would now be ‘illogical’ to submit a draft business case on their planned merger as they would support ‘some form of unitary arrangements for Suffolk’.

However, they and other councils have called on the county council to stop its review and replace it with a joint review with the wider public sector.

Cllr Nick Gowrley, leader of Mid Suffolk, said: “It would not be sensible for us to start the process of a merger given the county council’s new willingness to consider other options.

“There is more that we can be doing together as two district councils for our residents and communities; so that will be our focus between now and our next elections in May 2019.”

Cllr John Ward, leader of Babergh, said that given the county’s change of position ‘now is not the right time to be actively pursuing a merger with Mid Suffolk’.

Cllr Penny Otton, leader of Mid Suffolk Liberal Democrats, said she was sure many will be ‘relieved’ by the decision. She said the Liberal Democrats have ‘continually opposed’ the merger as they wanted a referendum to survey all residents in Mid Suffolk.

She added: “Hopefully we can concentrate on the issues that actually effect the people of the district.”

Cllr Andrew Stringer, leader of the Mid Suffolk Green group, said there had ‘at last been an outbreak of common sense’ and they welcome a discussion about unitary but the discussion needs to be ‘inclusive’.