Future remains uncertain for district council offices

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A report has suggested that Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils could relocate to Ipswich in a bid to save money.

This is just one of the ideas put forward in a report by Mid Suffolk and Babergh’s strategic director Andrew Hunkin.

The proposal would see staff from both council offices move to the Suffolk County Council HQ at Endeavour House in Ipswich and the development of “service delivery centres” in the district’s main towns.

Despite the integration of the two councils, the report confirmed that having two offices – the Babergh office in Hadleigh and the Mid Suffolk office in Needham Market – was resulting in unnecessary costs and inefficiencies.

Babergh council leader Jennie Jenkins said all 83 members across both councils will have to be involved in the decision.

“We have got to look at all the options,” she said. “We could be serving residents in a better way.”

Any move, however, would mean that the headquarters for both Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils would sit outside their districts.

Another option suggests that the councils move to a joint headquarters in the “Ipswich fringe area” and develop service areas in the district’s five main towns.

At the moment, only 50 per cent of the total office space is being used by the two district councils.

In his report, Mr Hunkin described the proposal as a “hub and spokes model”.

He said the administrative hub could move to Ipswich but the services would still be delivered in the market towns across the two districts.

“What is absolutely certain is that, with the deficit as it is, the councils need to be working more closely together,” said Mr Hunkin.

“The county council is one of our main partners so it would make sense to see whether we could work closer with it.”

The report is due to be debated at Mid Suffolk District Council’s executive committee meeting on Monday, and then at Babergh’s strategy committee meeting on Thursday, October 16.