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Tories in plan to wreck 'Yartoft'

PUBLISHED: 09:04 20 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 03 July 2010

Waveney District Council has revealed plans to set up a high-profile partnership with a neighbouring authority in a bid to turn around its fortunes and wreck the possibility of a cross-border merger with Yarmouth.

Waveney District Council has revealed plans to set up a high-profile partnership with a neighbouring authority in a bid to turn around its fortunes and wreck the possibility of a cross-border merger with Yarmouth.

Under the proposals, announced yesterday, Suffolk Coastal District Council's chief executive Stephen Baker will head Waveney's operations as part of a tie-up between the two authorities.

His position as joint chief executive will now have to be ratified by full council meetings of both authorities on February 28 before he takes up his new post on April 1.

While both Tory-led councils have been quick to say they are not merging, Waveney leader Mark Bee admitted it would give his authority more power to resist any attempt to create a so-called 'Yartoft' council for Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

He said: “This is very much a historical agreement and gives us the opportunity to come up with a Suffolk alternative to Yartoft.

“The people of Waveney do not want to be linked to Norfolk. They want us to link more closely with our colleagues in Suffolk and this is a way of doing that.”

The Boundary Committee will investigate a shake-up of local government in Suffolk and Norfolk, with the possible merger of Waveney and Yarmouth on the agenda.

Waveney's former chief executive Glen Garrod stood down from the authority in December following a series of bad ratings from the Audit Commission. Meanwhile, Suffolk Coastal has received good ratings and Mr Bee admitted its strong performance was another major reason for the partnership.

He added: “We already enjoy important links with Suffolk Coastal, but with this appointment we will now work more closely, sharing knowledge, expertise, experience and a dedication to the taxpayers of Suffolk that promises a genuinely bright future for us all.

“This is no merger, but a pooling of resources to create efficient and improved service delivery, and I am convinced this is the best possible news for Waveney.”

The link-up between the two district councils is likely to have an impact on staffing levels. Currently Waveney employs about 1,000 people while Suffolk Coastal has a little over 300 employees.

Mr Bee added: “Efficiency is important both to us and to taxpayers and where vacancies naturally arise, at either authority, we will consider taking advantage of each other's strengths rather than spend on recruitment unnecessarily.”

A Yartfoft council has been backed by local Labour politicians and Sally Spore, leader of the opposition Labour group at Waveney, criticised yesterday's announcement.

She said: “Mr Bee's decision to expend taxpayers' money on recruiting a new chief executive before he is aware of the outcome of any upcoming local government review is premature.”

Mrs Spore also insisted that Mr Bee was wrong to claim that creating a joint authority with Yarmouth would mean Waveney moving into Norfolk.

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