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Town councillors 'disillusioned' with decision-making process of Sudbury Vision Steering Group

A steering committee set up to guide major projects for Sudbury’s future has come under fire from town councillors, who say they are disillusioned by the lack of input they have under the current format.

Councillors voiced frustrations about the running of the Sudbury Vision Steering Group at the full town council meeting last week, suggesting they did not feel properly consulted on key issues and felt decisions were being dictated by Babergh District Council.

The group, which is chaired by Babergh cabinet member Michael Holt and includes key stakeholders, was formed with the goal of steering improvements to Belle Vue, Market Hill and the Hamilton Road quarter.

Sudbury Town Hall. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Sudbury Town Hall. Picture by Mecha Morton.

But Ellen Murphy, the town council’s representative on the group, said: “It amazes me that we’re not consulted on ideas being put forward by the steering group. We don’t always know what will be discussed at meetings.

“I’m very confused as to why I even bother attending. Babergh District Council is dictating to Sudbury Town Council.”

Steve Hall echoed this, citing the district council’s recent decisions around the sale of land at Belle Vue.

“I was completely disillusioned with the whole thing,” he said. “I have absolutely no confidence in that steering group.

“The worst thing about it is to see what’s happened to Belle Vue. Babergh ran out of time during a pandemic and forced it through. That’s my opinion and the opinion of many others. It’s about time Sudbury people were heard.”

Town councillors agreed that they would continue efforts to improve relations with Babergh District Council, and to convince the steering group chairman of the merits of “a more inclusive format”.

Nigel Bennett stated there was value in the steering group and argued it should continue, but added that communication had to improve.

“We should remember there’s a good reason to have a steering group,” he told last Tuesday’s meeting. “It brings to the table key stakeholders in the town.

“I don’t agree with getting rid of it, but we need to make it work better and make it feel more democratic. Every time there’s a big decision, we end up in a bun fight and we’ve got to stop this.”

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