Video conference used to span counties for new Joint Committee
Release date: 18 February 2016
Video conferencing has been used to open up the first 2020 Partnership Joint Committee meeting to officers, councillors and members of the public at four councils, spanning two counties and more than 2500 square km.
Cheltenham Borough Council, Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils are joining forces to share services and save £38 million collectively by 2024. The first Joint Committee meeting signified the official start of the four councils’ shared services partnership.
The meeting took place on 12 February at Forest of Dean District Council with video conferencing being used to ensure officers, councillors and members of the public could watch proceedings from each council’s offices live without needing to travel throughout Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. Meetings will rotate around each council in turn.
Cllr Patrick Molyneux, chairman of the Joint Committee said: “Modern technology is vital for the 2020 Partnership’s work and for opening up the Joint Committee across the four council areas for accessibility and transparency of the work we are doing. In addition we are using video conferencing technology to communicate with each other daily reducing the need to travel.
“The law states that when making decisions all the members of the committee need to be in the same room. We find this old fashioned and have written to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and our local MPs asking for this to be looked at. ”
In what is thought to be a first for local government the four councils have agreed to delegate staffing policy matters for their employees to the Joint Committee. Oversight of shared services and all policy matters relating to operational finance and ICT will also be dealt with by the committee.
Two members from each authority are on the Joint Committee which gives political direction and guidance, approves key deliverables and ensures the 2020 business case benefits are delivered for the councils as well as the partnership.
Each council maintains its independence and will keep its own separate identity. Although there will be alterations to the way in which staff at each council operate, the programme is being designed so that residents do not see any changes to their council and the services it runs.
The four council partnership will serve around 388,000 people in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire and cover 2511 square km.
Press release issued by: Rachael Orchard, Communications Officer, 2020 Programme, Rachael.Orchard@2020partnership.uk, 01285 623729.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The shared working programme, partially funded by Government Transformation Challenge Funding, is expected to deliver combined savings of £38 million between now and 2024. Building on the existing shared arrangements for human resources, finance, audit and payroll services, the first phase of additional shared services which will operate from 1st April 2016 will include:
• Information Communications Technology
• Public Protection
• Building Control
• Customer Services
• Revenues and Benefits
(NOTE: Not all councils are necessarily involved in each of the above services as some already have different arrangements)
This first phase will deliver immediate annual financial benefits of £1.83M mostly through a radical review of senior management. Further areas will be considered for sharing along with a formal decision to consider establishing a jointly owned local authority company to deliver services from 2017.