Proposals to create a new West Suffolk Council to drive prosperity, jobs and meet future challenges has been backed by Government.
Council Leaders in West Suffolk have welcomed the announcement by The Rt Hon Sajid Javid, MP, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government supporting the proposals.
The draft order will now be heard by Parliament and the announcement gives the go ahead for both authorities to get ready for the 2019 elections.
In his announcement the Minister said the new council will improve local government and service delivery in the area as well as commanding a good deal of local support.
The new authority, which also has strong support from local residents, businesses and public services, would replace Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils.
The new council, backed by 70% of residents in an independent poll, will better drive jobs, deliver services and continue investment to support local communities than the current arrangement.
In addition it would generate around £800,000 in savings and efficiencies and help protect the additional £4 million of annual savings already produced by sharing services.
At the same time a new council would also better support, invest in and meet the challenges facing communities, such as increased population, demand on health care and housing as well as reduced funding nationally.
The engagement process was designed to inform residents, businesses, partners and stakeholders of the proposals as well as giving people an opportunity to have their say if they wished. The results were then to be used by councillors in their debate.
Forest Heath District councillor James Waters, said: “We have a national reputation for being at the forefront of innovating and transforming local government. Doing what is right for our communities is always at the heart of what we do and is the reason we are creating this new West Suffolk Council.
“The Minster’s announcement today reinforces that Government agrees with our approach which will benefit our communities, Suffolk and UK PLC. 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.”
St Edmundsbury Borough Council Leader, councillor John Griffiths, said: “The decision today and the speed it has taken shows how compelling our arguments have been to Government for a new council and know how important we West Suffolk is to the economy. We are already a success story and this is the next chapter in transforming what we do, to better meet the needs of our communities and businesses.
“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. 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.”