|Babergh offices, closing shortly?|
This decision has not been universally welcomed and I do not find this surprising. Firstly, there are legitimate concerns about the economic impact of closing two reasonably large offices in the centre of two market towns. Bearing in mind the enthusiasm of many District councillors for stimulating economic growth in their areas, almost to the exclusion of any other goal, the decision on the face of it seems perverse.
Secondly it could be regarded as inappropriate for a District Council (the clue is in the name!) to move its headquarters to premises outside its district. We are assured however that residents will not be inconvenienced. It is the plan to locate ‘satellite offices’ in towns around the districts. Only time will tell if this will give residents adequate access to officers.
In any event the decision has now been made and, barring accidents, there will be an influx of District Council officers into the offices currently occupied by Suffolk County Council.
Many people, including myself, have for some time been in favour of scrapping the distinction between District and County Councils and forming one or more unitary authorities for Suffolk. The move of the Districts into SCC offices could throw up some interesting worked examples of the benefits of this idea.
In this connection, coincidentally, yesterday I was contacted by a resident about a planning matter which concerns both Babergh and the County Council. Some difficulties had arisen with regard to drainage (a County Council responsibility) and inevitably there had been some considerable delay as e mails were exchanged between the two teams of officers involved. Then one of the key officers at the County Council went on holiday resulting in further time wasted. When I was speaking to the manager of the County Council drainage department, trying to move things forward, he commented that once the Babergh officers are sitting in the same building, a lot of this to-ing and fro-ing ought to be avoided.
Let’s hope that he is right, because if he is the move to Ipswich may quicken things up in the short term and, possibly, lead to greater things in the long term.