Mid Suffolk’s new leader outlines initial priorities

Composite image of all six cabinet members, clockwise from top left: Andy Mellen, Rachel Eburne, Andrew Stringer, Tim Weller, Richard Winch, Teresa Davis. Image: Mid Suffolk District Council.

Mid Suffolk District Council’s new leader has outlined the priorities for its new administration – refocusing the council’s work in a “greener and more sustainable direction” whilst tackling community issues.

Andy Mellen was elected as the council’s new leader at the annual council meeting. Rachel Eburne was appointed his deputy, while the new chair of the council will be Rowland Warboys with Daniel Pratt as vice-chair.

The cabinet will be made up of six portfolios:

  • Andy Mellen (leader) – Performance and Resilience;
  • Rachel Eburne (deputy leader) – Finance and Resources;
  • Andrew Stringer – Heritage, Planning and Infrastructure;
  • Tim Weller – Environment, Culture and Wellbeing;
  • Richard Winch – Housing and Property;
  • Teresa Davis – Thriving Towns and Rural Communities.

In his leader’s speech councillor Mellen said the administration would re-focus the work of the council in a “greener and more sustainable direction”.

He said the council would take the lead and work with others to address challenges faced by communities – such as the cost-of-living, finding an affordable place to live, provision of local services, town centre decline, public transport, and climate change.

Councillor Mellen said the administration wanted to improve the “liveability” of communities – supporting the provision of key facilities.

He said: “This might be the local pub which also hosts the village post office or the food bank, two examples that are already happening. It could be redundant farm buildings re-purposed as a micro-brewery or a professional services centre, or the village hall which acts as a hub for community life.

“These kind of small businesses and community connections are often what make neighbourhoods work and on which people depend, and we want to build these up and support them.”

He also spoke of the need to build resilience in communities to withstand shocks such as economic challenges, and how the administration wants to see Mid Suffolk thrive in the next four years.

“Not just economically – though that’s important – but also culturally, socially, environmentally, sustainably thriving,” he added.

On the administration’s approach to the climate emergency, councillor Mellen said: “We must take environmental concerns into account in every decision that we make: how we work; what we invest in; the kind of houses we build, the locations we allow to develop, the type of businesses that we support and encourage, and all the services we provide.”

Earlier in the meeting, new council chairman councillor Warboys announced which charities he would be supporting during his tenure.

His two charities will be Street Forge Workshops, in Thornham Magna, and Beyond The Wall – a charity based in the “Walled Garden” on the Thornham Estate.

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