Babergh offices could move out of Hadleigh

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Serious consideration is to be given to moving Babergh District Council and its Mid-Suffolk counterparts into a single headquarters.

The two councils currently share a range of back-office functions and jointly deliver services following an integration in 2011, but remain in separate offices.

As part of this process a number of staff were made redundant to reduce costs and the authorities offices in Cork Lane, Hadleigh, and High Street, Needham Market, respectively, are subsequently under utilised.

The possibility of moving the council staff into one building is now to be explored in an “accommodation review”.

Andrew Hunkin, Babergh and Mid-Suffolk’s strategic director, said councillors had been approached about the idea in September and an independent partner was being sort to carry out the review.

“We expect to finalise a partner for the work in early March but at this stage we cannot say if the move to a single headquarters will happen,” said Mr Hunkin.

“Anything and everything is on the table and all the options are still there.”

It is thought that the two offices, each worth more than £1million, could be sold off if the review shows a move to one headquarters is viable.

This building would most likely be located somewhere between Hadleigh and Needham Market with satellite offices set up around the area.

“We are carrying on the integration journey and having two quite large buildings which are not full does cost,” said Mr Hunkin.

“There has been no discussion about the potential location of a single building, but the criteria would be that it is somewhere in between the two.”

Three years ago residents voted against a full merger of the two councils and instead the authorities pressed ahead with integration in order to save millions of pounds following government spending cuts.

During a Sudbury Town Council meeting last week town and district councillor Simon Barrett told members he believed it was a matter of “when not if” a switch to one building was made.

Fellow councillor Jack Owen said if this was the case another referendum allowing the electorate to state their view would be needed.

“I know there are cost implications of having two buildings but people are sleep walking into what appears very much like a merger, without the views of people being taken into account,” he said.