East Suffolk Council will become a reality from April next year.
Last month, Parliament made the Orders that were needed to create the new council, and it has now become law.
Following hard on the heels of this decision, the two councils – Suffolk Coastal and Waveney – met for the first time as a ‘shadow authority’ earlier this month. The shadow authority is formed of all 90 councillors from the two councils, and its role is to oversee the work to create the new council next year, and make sure there is a smooth transition. Crucially, it will also agree the budget and council tax for 2019/20.
At its first, ground-breaking meeting on 4th June, it elected Stephen Burroughes as its first chairman, with Tony Goldson as vice chairman. Mark Bee, current Waveney leader, was elected as leader of the shadow authority (and chairman of the shadow executive), with Suffolk Coastal’s Ray Herring as his deputy.
It is anticipated that the leader and deputy will swap roles every three months during this transitional year, dovetailing with a rotation of the chairmanship. The aim is, as has been the case all through the process, to ensure a balance between Waveney and Suffolk Coastal.
On the same evening, the shadow executive, comprising the 17 current cabinet members from across Waveney and Suffolk Coastal, also had its first meeting.
Over the next few months, councillors from both councils will continue with their various working groups, looking at the various aspects of the new council, such as communication, a new constitution and finance. Both councils have already agreed a warding proposal, that would see the number of wards across the new council area reduced from 90 to 55. The Boundary Committee for England will now carry out its formal work on the warding arrangements, likely to be published for consultation over the summer.
Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, said:
“This historic confirmation is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by members and officers; however this work does not simply stop now. We will continue to maintain our focus on this next stage of the journey, ensuring that the transition from two councils to one council is as smooth as possible.”
The new East Suffolk Council will be the largest district council in the country, by area, stretching to 487.2 sq miles (1,261.9 km2). It will serve a quarter of a million residents and deliver over 80 different services.