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Councils plan merger

PUBLISHED: 11:57 03 September 2010 | UPDATED: 09:18 16 September 2010

RESIDENTS of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth are being told that plans to merge management teams at two councils are geared towards the delivery of the best services while helping to save money.

RESIDENTS of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth are being told that plans to merge management teams at two councils are geared towards the delivery of the best services while helping to save money.

Waveney District Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council now share a chief executive but next week officials are due to discuss moves to take the collaboration further.

Four directors could be shared along with nine head-of-service positions, saving an estimated £250,000.

Waveney leader Mark Bee said: “This innovative partnership is geared towards the delivery of the best possible services, while helping us address financial issues.

“So far the partnership is set to save more than £400,000 and the proposals being presented have been drawn up by the shared chief executive as part of our on-going commitment to sharing effective and efficient services.”

Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring said a full merger was something that could “happen in due course”.

In a move Mr Herring said was “pioneering”, the joint management team could be put in place this autumn.

For the last two years the councils have shared chief executive Stephen Baker, head of planning Phil Ridley as well as other officers.

Mr Herring said the proposals would “deliver efficiency and economies across the two organisations by working much closer together,” adding: “It will mean better value for money.”

“We have got to reduce our costs by between 20-30pc and we have got to manage that, otherwise it will mean council tax payers will have to pay much more.

“It is about delivering better value for money.”

He added that the two councils had been planning and managing the move in a bid to minimise the number of redundancies that will result.

“It means, while we can't say we can prevent redundancies, if anyone has left in the last 18 months we have kept that place open and so the team should be put in place easily and redundancies will be kept to a minimum.”

The authorities' joint partnership board will meet on Wednesday and formal debate on the issue will take place at a simultaneous cabinet meeting, with all councillors invited, on September 13.

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