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Secretary of State shows support for new West Suffolk Council plans

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The Secretary of State has announced his support for plans to unite West Suffolk under one single council.

The Rt Hon Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for communities and local government said he was ‘minded to implement’ the plans on the basis of the business plan which showed that the new council would better help support services, provide greater value for money and provide stronger strategic and local leadership.

He also said that the fact that Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council share geography, it made sense to have one authority.

The plans would see Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, both of which put forward the plans, replaced by the new authority.

The proposals have received strong local support, with 70 per cent of residents backing the initiative in an independent poll. Public feedback also helped shape the final plans.

The new council would better drive jobs, deliver services and continue investment to support local communities than the current arrangement.

It would also generate around £800,000 in savings and efficiencies and help protect the additional £4 million of annual savings already produced by sharing services.

Both councils agreed to send the business case to Government for consideration and a legal order be drawn up ready to make the change with elections in 2019.

They have also been providing a strong case to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to ensure a strong representation of local communities is maintained.

Councillor John Griffiths, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “This is great news. It reflects the compelling argument we made and the general support there is for a new Council that puts us in a better position to meet the aspirations of our communities.

“We have listened to local residents and organisations who agree lines on a map or council structures should not get in the way of providing services or hamper us from seizing opportunities for continued investment in our communities.

“The case for creating a new single council was compelling and once again puts us at the forefront of transforming how local government works to benefit directly the people we serve.

“Not only can we continue to deliver high quality services but we can better champion our area, drive the local economy, jobs and prosperity in West Suffolk while tackling the challenges facing all public services.”

Forest Heath District Councillor James Waters, said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement that he is minded to implement our proposals to further drive prosperity and better support our communities. The speed at which the Secretary of State has made his announcement is a clear indication of the strength of our case and the recognition of the part we play now and in the future in helping drive the economy.

“Doing what is right for our communities is at the heart of what we do. The benefits to our residents is clear and there is strong support from local people, businesses and local organisations. Staying still is not an option if we are to meet future challenges and better champion our communities, both locally and nationally, as well as continuing to deliver high quality services.

“This means we are not only in a better position to have a louder voice but a real opportunity to find even more effective ways to work more closely and support our local organisations and residents. I look forward to helping create this new single council.”

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