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Babergh council offices moving to Ipswich?

Babergh district council offices''Picture Mark Westley ANL-160726-221524009
Babergh district council offices''Picture Mark Westley ANL-160726-221524009

Babergh councillors have voted to move to its headquarters to Ipswich as part of cost cutting measures and plans to improve services.

At a meeting on Tuesday night a majority of councillors backed proposals which the council says will improve the delivery of public services, including the relocation of the council offices.

“There is no doubt that the world of government and the public service sector is being transformed by technology, new ways of working and a challenging financial environment,” said Jennie Jenkins, leader of Babergh District Council.

“Councillors tonight have agreed that standing still is not an option. Their bold decision is the next step to ensuring services are better for residents, simpler for staff and more cost effective for tax payers.”

The council considered four options including locating all services to Hadleigh, all services to Needham Market, the sharing of accommodation in Endeavour House, Ipswich with Suffolk County Council or a new building for the councils.

Mrs Jenkins added: “Work has been underway since 2013 on the integration programme for both councils.

“The decision made tonight shows that our members see a move to Endeavour House as one that puts cost, modernisation, simplicity, reliability and convenience at the heart of the future delivery of Babergh District Council services.

“The current ways the public access the council’s services are antiquated, confusing, difficult and bureaucratic.

“Tonight’s vote is local councillors saying they want this to be a thing of the past.”

As well as the move to Ipswich, which also needs to be voted on by Mid Suffolk District Council, the Public Access Strategy sets out the case for change, aimed at improving access and contact to local services for residents.

As part of this, the strategy also sets out the five key access channels for the local community that need to be improved.

Despite previous criticism of removing the headquarters from the district, the council says face to face contact with residents will be improved as current offices are not easily accessible for the public.

Under the new recommendations, as well as the Ipswich headquarters there will be one access point in each district.

The council will also change its telephone communication, saying there is confusion with too many numbers and rising costs.

The proposals will see one main phone number, charged at a local rate, channelled through a customer contact centre.

Likewise with email there will be the creation and promotion of a single email address for the councils.

The proposals also include the development of one new clearer and simpler website which will include new arrangements to view and comment on planning applications.

There is also the likelihood of webchats and SMS messaging being available.

Mid Suffolk District Council meets to vote on the Public Access Strategy tomorrow.

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