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Will new West Suffolk Council get royal approval in 2019?

PUBLISHED: 21:46 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:45 21 November 2018

The new West Suffolk Council will decide on whether to pursue borough status once it has been created in 2019 Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The new West Suffolk Council will decide on whether to pursue borough status once it has been created in 2019 Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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A decision on whether a new Suffolk council will pursue ‘borough’ status will not be made until at least later next year, it has been decided.

The West Suffolk shadow council met earlier this evening to discuss how it wished to proceed with civic leadership for the formation of the new West Suffolk Council next year.

The council will be made by a merger of the existing St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council, but will not automatically get borough status.

The labelling is an honorary one which does not give any additional powers that a district council has, although allows the council to have a mayor.

It can also aid fundraising for charities chosen by the mayor.

Recommendations for this evening’s meeting proposed to vote on whether a special meeting should be called of the shadow council – members of both authorities working through the minutiae of a merger – which would allow a vote on whether to pursue borough status.

However, an amendment was passed that means this will now be decided by the new West Suffolk Council once it has been formed.

With the new authority being established in May next year, it is expected that any meeting would not take place until later in 2019 or early 2020 because of priority council business needing to take place first.

There will also be engagement with town and parish councils over ceremonial leadership.

The meeting heard that the Borough of St Edmundsbury had been in existence since the early 1600s, with councillor Julia Wakelam fearing that a loss of borough status would mean losing a “small but quite important part of our history and one that means quite a lot to people”.

Councillor Diane Hind added that “certain rights are hard won and shouldn’t be given up easily”.

Options for a return of a mayor of Bury St Edmunds with the town council was also raised as a possible option, as well as applying for a royal borough label.

When the council is formed next year it will be a chairman with a district council, and will then be for the new administration to decide whether it wishes to apply for borough status.

The proposals were passed unanimously.

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