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Bury St Edmunds Town Trust to ‘seek further advice’ after Suffolk County Council reject maladministration complaint





Campaigners say they ‘will be seeking further advice’ after a complaint over the handling of the closure of an archives branch was rejected by the county council.

Bury St Edmunds Town Trust had lodged a maladministration complaint with Suffolk Council Council (SCC) claiming a lack of consultation over the move to close West Suffolk Archives branch in Raingate Street and transfer records to The Hold in Ipswich.

The trust felt the council had failed to consult with the public and stakeholders and that by including the decision in its annual budget meeting, left ‘no time to resolve the issue’.

Eve Burrows Bury Society member, John Popham, chairman Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, Martyn Taylor, chairman Bury Society member with copies the petition. Picture: Mark Westley
Eve Burrows Bury Society member, John Popham, chairman Bury St Edmunds Town Trust, Martyn Taylor, chairman Bury Society member with copies the petition. Picture: Mark Westley

But in a letter to the trust, seen by Suffolk News, the council’s monitoring officer, Nigel Inniss, said that the complaint had been reviewed in the ‘context of the budget setting’ and within that, he could see ‘no obligation on the council’s part for it to have examined any other alternatives and/or to have engaged, with West Suffolk Council [as the trust had suggested]’.

West Suffolk Archives, Raingate Street, Bury St Edmunds
West Suffolk Archives, Raingate Street, Bury St Edmunds

He added, in that context, he felt there had been in fact been ‘good administration’, and he would not be issuing a report.

In response, John Popham, chair of the Town Trust, said: “In the light of this, the trust is seeking further advice. The response fails to address some of our key concerns.”

The decision to shut the archives branch in the town and move it, alongside Lowestoft’s office to The Hold, in Ipswich, was made during Suffolk County Council’s budget discussions on February 15.

SCC said if West Suffolk’s records office were to stay at its current location, in Raingate Street, it would cost £5 million . Moving the archives is expected to save £140,000 a year.

The Bury Free Press (Suffolk News), The Bury Society and Bury St Edmunds Town Trust campaigned against the plan.

More than 2,500 people also signed a petition to keep the archives in Bury,

Although the decision means all statutory documents such as marriage certificates will be moved to Ipswich, during the county council discussions, member for equality and communities Cllr Philip Faircloth-Mutton said a working party would be set up to better analyse the future of non-statutory archives.

Suffolk County Council has been approached for an update on the progress of the working group.

The town trust had also requested that the closure of the archive office be put on hold and a working party be set up to discuss its future.

West Suffolk Council also approved a motion proposed by Cllr Julia Wakelam calling upon Suffolk County Council to suspend the closure to first hold talks with the council and stakeholders.