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Government gives nod to new West Suffolk council

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said that the merged council would 'better serve communities' and has 'strong local support'
Communities secretary Sajid Javid said that the merged council would 'better serve communities' and has 'strong local support'

Merging two councils, one of which covers Newmarket and Mildenhall, would be “likely to improve local government in the area” according a senior government minister.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he was ‘minded to’ recommend the creation of a new West Suffolk Council, putting local plans on course for Parliamentary approval next year.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Javid said that he approved of plans to merge Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury, a proposal which he said ‘commands local support’ referring to a poll organised locally as part of the consultation procedure which found over 70 per cent of residents backed the initiative.

Mr Javid also said that the shared geography of the two councils meant that they could effectively work together and ‘serve their communities better’.

If Parliament approves of the merger early next year, the first West Suffolk council elections would be held in 2019.

Decisions on where the new council’s wards would be have not been made yet, but there will be fewer councillors.

“The speed at which the Secretary of State has made his announcement is a clear indication of the strength of our case and recognition of the part we play now and in the future in helping drive our economy,” said Forest Heath Council leader Cllr James Waters.

“Staying still is not an option if we are to meet future challenges and better champion our communities, both locally and nationally, as well continuing to deliver high quality services.

“This means that 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.”

The two councils already share a majority of services, but it is claimed the new authority would deliver an additional £800,000 of savings as well as protecting the £4 million already saved. Councillors also believed one larger council would be better placed to invest in, and meet the challenges facing communities, such as increased population.

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