Cllr Colin Law is to step down as Leader of Waveney District Council and has issued a statement today reflecting on his six years in the role.
He will remain in post until a new Leader is elected and that decision will be formally ratified at the next full Council meeting, which will take place on May 17th.
Cllr Law said:
“It has been the very greatest pleasure to serve local communities as the Leader of Waveney District Council for the past six years. I took the decision some while ago that I would not be standing for re-election as a district councillor for Oulton Broad at the next elections in 2019 and, as we approach the most momentous period in the history of this council, I think it is only logical and fair that a new Leader is in place to steer us towards full merger with Suffolk Coastal.
“There is a huge amount of work to do and it is a very exciting time, but with my own retirement pending, I will be very happy to hand over the reins to someone who will take this district forward in to a new era.
“When I took over as Leader from Mark Bee in 2011, this Conservative Administration had helped steer the Council out of very choppy waters. In the face of a recession and serious financial concerns, the ship had been steadied and I knew that my role would be to take Waveney forward and deliver key outcomes for the people and communities of the district. With this in mind, I can genuinely look back with satisfaction.
“In recent times, we have received long awaited funding for a new third crossing in Lowestoft as well as the money we need to build a permanent flood protection scheme in the town. We have seen huge strides in the renewable energy sector with investment by Scottish Power of £25m to create a base which will bring employment for decades to come and we are continuing to build new homes all the time to meet the housing need in the district.
“Only recently, we secured £1 million from the Government to help regenerate Lowestoft Ness and we have also received a pledge from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council of many hundreds of thousands of pounds for local arts and culture. This is clear evidence that we are now seen as an area to invest in.
“We have award winning housing maintenance and building control teams and a dynamic communities team which has helped us deliver great events with real pride – such as the Olympic Torch Relay, the Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games and a number of world class tour cycling stages.
“This May will also see the creation of new councils for Lowestoft and Oulton Broad – yet another achievement of a long standing ambition during my time as Leader.
“What gives me most pleasure however, has been the outstanding efforts we have made to save money and reinvest it in essential services for local people. All against the backdrop of balanced budgets and low council tax every year, despite the economic difficulties we have all faced.
“Our accommodation programme, for example, has helped reduce costs considerably. By selling old inefficient council buildings we have been able to invest in new offices at Riverside and a completely refurbished, fit for purpose, Customer Service Centre at the Marina. The best thing about these schemes however, is that they have actually enabled us to save money, all of which goes back in to services where they are most needed.
“At the heart of this financially-driven approach is our first ever joint Business Plan, launched with Suffolk Coastal in 2015, reflecting our total commitment to three underpinning themes: economic growth, financial self-sufficiency and enabling communities. And of course, the pinnacle of these achievements is our shared services arrangement with Suffolk Coastal – which was among the first in the country, saving local tax payers millions of pounds.
“This has paved the way for a historic full merger - the first ever at this level – creating a new, stronger and more influential super council for east Suffolk. The journey has been hard and we have had to overcome many challenges. And yet we are setting an example and a high standard for local authorities around the country to follow.
“I would like to thank all my councillor colleagues for their support and friendship during my time as Leader, both here and at Suffolk Coastal, and a huge thank you also, to all the officers and staff who do an absolutely amazing job, under no little pressure, day in day out. Councils get an unfair reputation from time to time, but I never cease to be amazed by the hard work and commitment of people who are committed to delivering important services.
“I would like to wish my successor, whoever that may be, the very best of luck and I now look forward to serving the people of Oulton as a ward councillor until 2019, before my full retirement and an opportunity to spend more time with the people closest to me – my wonderful wife Deanna and my beautiful children and grandchildren.”