Since 2011, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have answered the challenges facing local government by developing a new way of delivering council services; Working Together.
In the last six years, we have achieved £13m cumulative savings by delivering our services with a joint Chief Executive and a fully integrated staff structure. We now have a shared vision and outcome based approach which marks a fundamental shift for both councils, and presents the opportunity to move from simply Working Together, to working as one Council. This would not only support the delivery of our new shared vision but also protect our public services by providing long term financial security for the new council.
In 2017, given the challenges facing local government, we agreed to explore whether forming a new single council covering the Mid Suffolk and Babergh area would provide the best option available at that time to continue delivering high quality services for our residents, at the best value. We engaged extensively with businesses and a range of stakeholders, including an online survey and an independent, representative telephone survey of residents which demonstrated support for a new single council. We used this feedback to inform the development of a draft business case, which was prepared to support a formal request to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to dissolve Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, and to create a new single district council.
In March 2018 Suffolk County Council independently commissioned think-tank ResPublica to carry out a review looking at options for structural reform in Suffolk, including the option for unitary authorities. Whilst we are not supportive of this review we are keen to encourage a joint review, with the County Council and wider public sector, designed to invest in expanding and accelerating our work to date, in a way that properly transforms the public sector service delivery in Suffolk for the future and for the benefit of our residents. We have previously acknowledged the benefits that might be achieved via unitary arrangements and we therefore feel that it would not be sensible to continue to progress our work towards a single council at this stage.
Our current focus is to work even harder to strengthen the ‘Working Together’ partnership between our Councils, to take account of the findings from our engagement work, and to continue to work closely with all of our partners to ensure that the public sector in Suffolk remains fit for purpose for the future.
If you wish to download separate parts of the business case, these are provided below: