Bid for Waveney and Suffolk Coastal ‘super-council’ moves to the next stage
Claims that combining two coastal authorities in a new “super-council” would cause a democratic deficit have been rejected by a leader supporting the plans.
Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils took a step closer to merging after a meeting of the two groups’ cabinet members unanimously agreed creating a single authority was their “preferred way forward”.
An independent telephone poll of 1,000 people across the two districts will now be carried out to gauge public opinion on the move, which would see a reduction in the number of councillors from 90 to somewhere between 60 and 70.
Waveney District Council leader Colin Law said the merger had many advantages, saying that saving £900,000 per year when government is vastly reducing its grants to local government over the next four years was the “driving force” behind the plans.
He also believes central government will force Waveney and Suffolk Coastal to merge anyway at some point in the future, arguing: “If we’re forced to merge it will be on central government’s terms, rather than us planning for it.”
However Sonia Barker, the Labour opposition group leader on Waveney District Council, has said on previous occasions that reducing the number of elected representatives would mean fewer councillors representing people, as well as people from Felixstowe making decisions on Lowestoft.
But Mr Law said: “Those sorts of comments are divisive and totally incorrect.
“There will still be local officers. The offices will still be here.
“It is said that people in Felixstowe will be making decisions about Lowestoft but people in Lowestoft will also be making decisions about Felixstowe. No democratic deficit exists.
“If you look at how a county council operates, they have a division in Lowestoft that is covered by two county councillors.
“In that division, we have nine Waveney district councillors. That to me doesn’t stack up in any way, shape or form - not when you start to consider that a county councillor role takes on far more responsibility.”
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