New Suffolk County Council leader wants to ‘reconnect’

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The new leader of Suffolk County Council has vowed that the authority will reconnect with communities across the county.

Cllr Mark Bee was elected leader of Suffolk County Council during the authority’s annual general meeting today and laid out his approach to the £80 million budget cuts that need to be made in the next three years.

He said he ‘didn’t believe’ that the new strategic direction (NSD) - the council’s policy of finding alternative ways to deliver services - as a concept has connected with the people of Suffolk, some politicians, partner organisations or indeed many of their staff.

He said: “The people of Suffolk expect to be listened to and cared about. I don’t believe the vast majority of people believe we have been doing that.

“The NSD has come to be seen as a one-size-fits-all philosophy that must be applied across Suffolk regardless of the views of local communities. I am clear that my leadership will not be about a philosophy.”

He said his leadership would focus on listening to the people of Suffolk, openness and transparency and above all, practical, common sense solutions to problems based on the needs of a specific area developed with communities and partners.

However, Cllr Bee said that the authority still needed to make savings and stressed the principle of shared responsibility - a phrase he mentioned in his speech five times.