Thank you to those of you who took the time to write to me with your opinions about the proposals for local government reorganisation. It is always great to get some feedback.
No one who wrote was particularly keen on the proposals. In fact everyone appears to think that the case for unitary councils in Suffolk has not really been made, and would prefer to see the status quo remain. One major problem is that no financial facts are as yet available, and, rightly, people are wary of reaching an opinion in the absence of such fundamental evidence. Once again one wonders about the sincerity of those who claim to be ‘consulting’ the public when such vital key facts are unavailable.
One correspondent wrote about the financial difficulties that have been encountered in another part of England, where the unitary council is now close to bankruptcy, insufficient attention having been paid to the size of the tax base of the new authority. This sort of story really frightens me and increases my uncertainty about going wholeheartedly for the ‘two unitary’ solution. Although I think it hangs together conceptually, and is an attractive scheme, I instinctively feel that it could be a ‘Rolls Royce solution’ with a Rolls Royce price tag!
Another resident is worried about the remoteness of the new authority, writing, ‘I have felt for sometime that governance is getting out of human scale with ever-larger and more distant authorities divorced from the people they serve.’ She in particular is worried that planning will fail to stay in touch with local needs.
People have been surprisingly complementary about Babergh’s performance, and have expressed concerns that I share with regard to the willingness and capacity for Parish and Town Councils to shoulder more responsibility for the delivery of local services.
I will certainly bear all your views in mind when considering my own response. The Council meets on Tuesday and we are being asked at that meeting to support the Boundary Committee’s views with some boundary alternations related to Hadleigh. This will be subject (I think) to receiving further information with regard to affordability that is due on 12th September. There will then be just about enough time for an additional Council Meeting on 23rd September to finalise the submission.
I am curious to see what happens if, as is very possible, if the numbers for two unitaries simply do not stack up!