Waveney and Suffolk Coastal Councils in merger discussion

TAXPAYERS have been promised that money will be saved by the merging of the senior management teams of two Suffolk councils.

Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Council’s cabinets met for their first ever simultaneous cabinet meeting on Monday and councillors backed plans for collaboration between the two authorities.

Four director posts will be shared along with nine head of service positions – creating estimated savings of about �400,000.

At the meeting held at Wenhaston Village Hall, near Halesworth, Stephen Baker, joint chief executive of both councils, said: “This has been described as an historic event, it is certainly a unique event, the first simultaneous cabinet meeting between two councils in the east of England.”

Members were told that the move would not lead to any compulsory redundancies.

Mr Baker, who has been the chief executive for both authorities for two years, said the move was the “way forward in light of the context we currently face, a need to respond to the national financial situation with the Government warning us of between 20 and 30pc cuts to the budget.”

He said it would require “a new style of working” with the changes “affecting everyone, from staff to councillors to portfolio holders.”

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He added: “We are entering a phase of fairly continuous change. To some extent it is unchartered territory, but where we lead I think we will see others follow.”

Waveney District Council leader Mark Bee, said: “This is a pragmatic way forward, responding effectively to the reality of the world in which we find ourselves, where finances are tight and the government and public are looking to us to prepare solutions.

“It offers us change at minimum costs. It is not often we can do this type of thing without massive savings and redundancies. It is a way to protect front line services for the benefit of the public, the people who elected us and put us here.”

The councils will remain as two “sovereign councils” sharing their senior management team. As well as a shared chief executive they already share their head of planning, Philip Ridley.