Monday April 1 sees the historic creation of a brand new local authority, replacing Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils.
East Suffolk Council will deliver essential services to local people and communities, from Lowestoft in the north to Felixstowe in the south, and is the natural culmination of a partnership between Suffolk Coastal and Waveney which has seen them save a combined total of over £22 million.
The creation of this new ‘super district council’ is a historic first for local government. It is the latest step in a meticulously planned journey designed to ensure that local people receive the services they deserve and expect in the face of considerable financial challenges for local government.
The primary reason for creating this new council is to meet the challenges presented by a hugely pressurised financial and service-delivery environment. Compared with the other options considered, it is the most simple to implement and has involved limited transitional costs. It will enable the new council to grasp more opportunities and deliver its priorities for East Suffolk: financial self-sufficiency, economic growth, and enabling communities.
So what will you as taxpayers see that is different? First, the number of councillors is being reduced from 90 across the two authorities to 55 and the elections to the new council will take place on May 2nd. A lot of work has gone in to ensuring that it will be ‘business as usual’ when the new council comes in to force on April 1.
Residents will continue to pay their council tax in the same way, refuse and recycling will be collected by the same friendly and efficient teams a and a range of important services from Planning and Coastal Management to Housing and Environmental Health will continue in exactly the same way.
There will of course be some changes. A new telephone number is being introduced for the Council’s switchboard and customer contact centre: 03330 162 000. This will be a non-geographic number, meaning that callers will be charged at a local rate, no matter where they call from in East Suffolk. And of course, there will be new signs – from the largest logos on the side of our main buildings, to car parks and vehicles.
These changes will be made gradually to keep costs down; another example of how the creation of a brand new council has been carefully planned with the taxpayer and public money in mind.