Sudbury Town Council voices anger at £35,000 shortfall in funding for Advice Centre
A town councillor has branded plans to significantly reduce funding for a vital support service in Sudbury as “disgraceful”.
During a meeting of the full town council on Tuesday, it was revealed that Babergh District Council had proposed a year’s funding of £55,000 to operate Sudbury Advice Centre, which amounted to a shortfall of around £35,000.
Operated from the town hall five days a week, the centre provides key support for residents on services provided by the town, district and county councils.
Condemning the decision, councillor Jenny Antill, who represents Sudbury North, said: “I think this is completely disgraceful behaviour from Babergh District Council, which justified its move to Ipswich on the basis that there would be facilities here for residents to come and get advice.”
Cllr Antill argued that the shortfall in funding was unacceptable.
“It’s cost shunting of the very worse kind and I think we should resist it and publicise it,” she said.
Echoing her sentiments, Sue Ayres praised the work of the team at the advice centre.
“We could not do without them,” she said. “And I think those of us who are Babergh councillors need to stick up for our town and get something done, because I really do feel that it’s disgusting.”
In response to the proposed funding, a motion put forward by Oliver Forder – advising that the authority accepted the current financial arrangement on the condition that it entered into discussions about future funding of the town’s facility – was passed.
Speaking after the meeting, Lee Parker, cabinet member for customers, digital transformation and improvement at Babergh District Council, said: “We put forward a formal proposal to Sudbury Town Council for the renewal of our contract for the next 12 months, which would see our customer service offer continue at the town council building.”
Highlighting the value of the support service in the town, Cllr Parker added: “It is essential that we continue to deliver a quality, valuefor-money service to our tax payers.
“Our existing contract began in 2017, enabling us to offer a local service to local residents through our customer access point in the town, and we want to be able to maintain this provision in the most cost effective way.”
More by this authorPriya Kingsley-Adam