25 May 2018
A new West Suffolk Council to better drive jobs, prosperity and the local economy has been given the official go-ahead by parliament.
The final Orders have been signed by Rishi Sunak MP, Minister for Local Government, to create the new Council. This follows the Orders passing all the procedural stages through the House of Lords and Commons.
In a joint statement the Leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Councillor John Griffiths, and Leader of Forest Heath District Council, Councillor James Waters said: “This is a truly historic moment for West Suffolk and the UK as a whole in the transformation of Local Government to better meet the needs of local communities. The local residents and businesses that we serve are at the heart of this change which will mean we can better manage growth, encourage jobs and prosperity while protecting our high quality services. Both Councils have been on this journey together from sharing services to save £4 million annually to our investment strategy which has seen millions of pounds put aside to help provide housing, support business and bring social benefits.
“We have an ambitious vision for our area to drive our economy and make sure this unique place we call home continues to be a great place to bring up a family or grow a business. We are seen nationally as a leader in transforming how councils and the public sector work together to break down barriers and forge new initiatives that directly benefit our residents. The case for the new Council was compelling and backed both locally and now by Government. The new Council allows us to bring tailored local solutions and gives a louder voice to champion our area nationally and internationally. We look forward to a bright future for West Suffolk.”
The West Suffolk proposal was the first of its kind to be agreed by the House of Commons and was proposed by Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
The new authority, which also has strong support from local residents, businesses and public services, will replace both current councils.
A programme of engagement saw 70% of residents back the initiative in an independent poll and public feedback helped shape the final business case.
The new council would 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 additional savings and efficiencies and help protect the £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 housing, creating jobs as well as reduced funding nationally.
Both councils have also been making a strong case to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to make sure strong representation of local communities is maintained.
The first meeting of the Shadow Authority will be May 30 and this will help the transition to the new West Suffolk Council which will be created in April 2019 with elections the following month.