Home > Your council > New single council for East Suffolk > Your questions answered

Your questions answered

1. Will all current Suffolk Coastal and Waveney offices remain open?

Yes. All existing offices will remain open, in their current locations and there are no plans to close any due to the creation of the new Council.

2. Why has my account reference number changed?

We have merged two sets of databases, to create a single database for East Suffolk. New account reference numbers are being issued to avoid any duplication of numbers across East Suffolk. The new Council must operate a single database for local taxation and other statutory functions.

3. Why is there a different telephone number?

East Suffolk covers a geographical location from Felixstowe and the outskirts of Ipswich in the south, to Bungay and across to Lowestoft in the north, therefore covering a range of STD code aareas such as 01502, 01394, 01728, 01986 and 01473. In order to ensure that all customers in the district can call the council fairly, a non-geographic telephone number has been provided for our Customer Services centre. No matter where you are calling from, you will be charged at a local call rate. The new number is 03330 162 000.

4. Why are the terms of service for garden waste services not the same, despite merging?

The cost for the garden waste service is the same wherever you are in the East Suffolk district – currently set at £43 per year. The only difference currently in the former geographical areas of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney is what you can put in the bin – in the former Suffolk Coastal area certain food waste is allowed in the garden waste bin – this is due to the contract we have in place and the way in which the waste is handled/composted at the treatment plant. Once this contract is due for renewal, harmonisation of what can be put into the garden waste bin will be achieved. Customers will continue to use their bins as they currently do for the time being and will experience no change in the service they are used to.

5. Does this mean there are less staff to help me?

No. Suffolk Coastal and Waveney have operated a ‘shared services partnership’ for the last ten years, with staff already working across both councils. This means that the same staff will be available to deliver your services.

6. How can services stay local when the new district covers such a large area?

There will be no single headquarters and the new council will retain its offices in both Lowestoft and Melton, as well as its current customer services locations around the district. The new council is also exploring different and innovative ways to deliver services at a local level including the ‘Community Partnerships’ model.

7. Why are you merging?

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils have worked in partnership for the last ten years, delivering services with a single officer base and successfully sharing resources. The partnership began because of the financial challenges faced by councils around the country and in that time, we have made savings of around £22 million - allowing us to keep Council Tax increases to a minimum. as low as possible in the light of budget gaps faced by Local Government. Becoming a single Council is the natural next step and will give us a greater voice nationally on behalf of the communities of east Suffolk. It will help to boost investment in the area and help us better tackle the issues we face. Any further financial savings generated will help us to meet our budget requirements and ensure we can continue to deliver the services that you expect from us.

8. Who decided to merge the councils and when was this decided?

The locally elected members of both Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils approved the creation of a brand new council for east Suffolk in January 2017. Later in 2017, approval was given by the Secretary of State and the decision then went through a number of Parliamentary processes. The initial Parliamentary Order for the creation of the new Council was made in May 2018, followed by several other Parliamentary Orders which finally confirmed the creation of the new Council and all its functions in law.

9. Why were the public not consulted about this?

An independent telephone survey of residents was undertaken in the area during 2016 and public engagement continued involving Town and Parish Councils. This issue has been discussed in public, has been on our website, through various TV and press releases on local news and radio stations, in local newspapers and on social media. More information on the journey of becoming a single Council can be found on our website: http://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/yourcouncil/new-single-council/

10. Is this a scam letter? (Council Tax Bills)

No, this is not a scam. Parliamentary Orders have been laid to create the new East Suffolk Council and the Council Tax (and other) bills must be issued in advance by the Shadow Authority for the coming tax year. Please note, however, we will not contact you as a result of becoming a new Council to ask for your bank account or other secure information, so please be aware of any fraudulent action and report it. If you are unsure, please contact us direct.

11. Where has my Council gone?

Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils are both abolished, and East Suffolk Council created, on 1 April 2019 covering the same geographical area as the two former authorities. This is set in law and the new Council structure was officially created by various Orders laid in Parliament over the last year or so. All functions transfer to the new authority and all staff will transfer over too. You will be able to vote for your local district Councillor, to represent you on East Suffolk Council, at the elections on 2 May 2019.

12. What does this mean for me/the area? What are the advantages of this?

The principle behind the Councils working in partnership is that residents see their services maintained and improved despite a reduction in our financial resources. For us, we’ve always wanted you to see it as ‘business s usual’.

This will continue to be the case as a single council for East Suffolk. Behind the scenes, the vast majority of the Councils’ services are already seamlessly delivered as a single service to the residents of East Suffolk, and residents will still be able to access their own local Councillor to support them or advocate on their behalf.

The new single council will still be small enough to be local, provide accountable democracy, and understand and enable our communities; but large enough and financially strong enough to make greater investments in growth, housing and infrastructure, and challenge and lobby even more effectively on behalf of East Suffolk by having a greater voice – not only in the region but nationally too.

13. How much is this going to cost me?

The new Council will create no additional cost to residents, although Council Tax may continue to rise in line with inflation. Please remember, the district council only makes up a small proportion of your Council Tax bill (around 10%), with Town and Parish Councils, the County Council and the Police making up the remainder.

14. What area is this going to cover?

East Suffolk Council covers the same geographical area as Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils combined – from Felixstowe and the outskirts of Ipswich in the south, to Bungay and across to Lowestoft in the north. A full map showing all East Suffolk Parishes can be found on our website. The new Council covers the whole of the Suffolk coastline.

15. Do I need to make a new benefit claim?

No, you do not need to make a new benefit claim. All functions, records and transactions of the previous authorities automatically transfer to the new Council.

16. Will my records be merged?

The two councils have worked as a single shared service officer base and have shared resources for many years, including a single IT network. Records held on secure databases within relevant IT business systems, where necessary, will be merged. This may mean bringing two sets of data together into a single database, but in most cases, this has already been achieved in previous years and does not need to be done now.

17. Do I need to change my direct debit? Are the bank details for standing orders remaining the same (council tax, housing benefit overpayments)?

You do not need to change your bank details or direct debits, these will continue to work. If you pay by other means, you will need to note any changes in your account reference for future payments, all details will be on your bill. You will notice a change on your bank statement as future payments will be made to East Suffolk Council.

18. Are my bin collection days changing?

There are no planned changes as a result of becoming a new council, however we will continue to review services and provide the most efficient routes possible for our collection crews. If there are any changes in the future, you will be notified in advance.

19. Who do I contact if I don’t agree?

The creation of the new Council is laid in law. Customers should not notice any change in service as the two councils have been working so closely and seamlessly in shared services arrangements up to now. The creation of the single council will benefit the area going forward.

20. Why can’t it stay as it is? How is this better than it is now?

This is seen as the next logical step in the evolution of the two authorities working together as a shared services partnership over the last ten years. This will enable efficiencies and free up officer time when currently dealing with two sets of Council meetings, minutes, budgets, invoices and other matters that must be dealt with separately as two sovereign authorities. Less bureaucracy and a more flexible approach for a super district of the future. Most importantly, a greater voice for the East Suffolk area.

21. Will charges go up/down?

Fees and charges are generally aligned across the two districts and so in the main will not be affected. Where there is a difference in a few isolated areas, these will be reviewed by the new council and may be aligned over the course of the coming years.

22. Will services improve?

We are always aiming to improve services, so they can deliver the best within our limited resources.