Petition calls for public vote on Babergh and Mid Suffolk merger proposal

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich

A petition – campaigning for the public to be given a vote on the proposals to combine Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils into a single authority – has been launched.

The outcome of the referendum in 2011, which resulted in similar plans being rejected by Babergh residents (see below), has led critics to argue that moving forward with the new endeavour would be an act of betrayal.

The online petition has so far accrued more than 200 signatures.

Luke Cresswell, Labour councillor for the Sudbury South ward, said: “Babergh Conservative cabinet members talk about the need to re-educate the electorate, as if adult voters in their area are ignorant or stupid.

“The consultation they now plan is a complete sham and nothing more than an attempt to be seen as listening, while continuing along their chosen path regardless.

“Either they allow the public to give their view in a new poll, or the Conservatives behind the merger plan should include it clearly in their manifesto when they next stand for election.

“Whether a merger is a good or bad idea isn’t the issue. We can’t simply override a 60 per cent vote against and then pretend that we’re democrats – it just doesn’t wash.”

Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils first suggested dissolving and recombining as a single district council back in 2011, and conducted a public referendum in both areas on the subject.

The proposal received the backing from Mid Suffolk, with 59.9 per cent voting for it and 40.1 per cent voting against, on a turnout of 43.2 per cent.

However, it was rejected from Babergh, which saw 60.9 per cent voting ‘no’ and 39.1 per cent voting ‘yes’, on a 45.2 per cent turnout.

This meant the overall result was a narrow rejection of the merger, 50.3 per cent to 49.7 per cent, with a total of 64,069 people casting ballots.

Following the referendum, the councils increased co-operation through their ‘Working Together’ partnership, while remaining sovereign councils.

To view the petition calling for a vote on the new proposals, go to you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-babergh-and-mid-suffolk-merge-without-residents-having-a-vote.