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Report on move by councils to be made public

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A report outlining the pros and cons of moving a council headquarters to Ipswich will be published after a request by a councillor.

Brian Riley, a district councillor for Hadleigh, disagrees with the potential move, which would see both Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils move to new centralised headquarters.

After pressure from Mr Riley, a £24,000 report – used by members to decide to pursue plans to move the two district councils – will be made public.

“It’s important because transparency and accountability are the watch words that govern local government,” said Mr Riley.

“How else do we know if our money is being spent wisely? If things are hidden from the public, they will ask questions and will come to their own conclusions.”

Results from the report into the move by property consultants Lambert Smith and Hampton were published, along with a concise report compiled by Babergh and Mid Suffolk strategic director Andrew Hunkin, but now the original review will also be made public.

It was agreed earlier this year by both authorities to pursue a “hub and spokes” model, with a central building possibly in Ipswich, alongside community service centres in key towns across the two districts.

Mr Riley feels the councils should follow the model that would be the best financially, with Mid Suffolk joining Babergh at its Hadleigh office.

He suggested any savings could be used to improve front-line services or freeze taxes.

“I believe local government should be local and I think that if you move offices, then the officers and executives could become detached from the people they should be serving,” he said.

He added that he disliked the idea of jobs moving out of the district.

Mr Hunkin, however, said that while the report suggested Hadleigh was the best move financially, it also described the office as not fit for purpose.

He said other models gave the opportunity to work closer with other agencies.

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