Councils give green light to shared working programme
Release date: 23 November 2015
Four local authorities – Cheltenham Borough Council, and Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils - have given the go ahead to proceed with a shared working programme which will deliver combined savings of £39 million between now and 2024.
The programme, called 2020 Vision, will build on existing shared working arrangements across the four councils in the fields of human resources, finance and payroll services. The partners are also already working towards building a common Information and Communications Technology structure.
Although there will be alterations to the way in which staff operate, the programme is being designed so residents will not see any changes to their council and the services it runs.
Each council maintains its independence and will keep its own separate identity. Democratically elected members should not see any changes to their roles in relation to providing local services and will continue to set their own policies, strategies, service standards and decision making processes.
The councils will now work towards setting up a Joint Committee in spring 2016 to make the changes.
Cotswold District Council Leader, Cllr Lynden Stowe, commented: “We already have good links with the 2020 partner councils through a range of joint working initiatives, which have proven to be very successful. We feel that the time is now right to strengthen these ties as the best way to make savings and maintain a full range of services to customers. We have looked at other ways to reduce running costs, including cutting services, forming a unitary authority and buying services from other providers. We have discounted all of those options because we think the 2020 Vision model is the best solution as it will still allow us the independence to make our own decisions on the priorities relevant to the Cotswold District.”
Cllr Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “We now have the chance to build on the track record of successful partnership working already established by our four councils. It gives us the chance to make the savings needed while protecting the services valued by the people of Cheltenham and indeed each of our local communities. We will need to continue the hard work to ensure the vision becomes reality.”
Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Leader of Forest of Dean District Council said: “We are very pleased that all four partners have now signed up to continuing with the partnership. It makes a lot of sense for us to continue to build on something which is already working as we look to make savings over the coming years. The 2020 Vision Programme will by the fifth year be delivering annual savings of £1.3 million to our council alone. We firmly believe this is the best way to continue providing our current range of services. This solution also allows us to continue to make our own decisions on the priorities relevant to the Forest of Dean and keep the strong identity we have here.”
Sir Barry Norton, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council said: “The 2020 Vision Programme is set to deliver huge financial savings for each of the partner councils and builds on the successful joint working already in place. It is structured so that members of the public will see little or no change to frontline services and decisions will still be made by locally elected councillors taking the needs of the local community of West Oxfordshire into account.”
Before deciding to enter into the partnership, each council conducted a period of consultation with residents.
In addition to sharing human resources, finance and payroll services, the first phase of the plan will extend the shared services to include:
- Information Technology
- Public Protection
- Building Control
- Customer Services
- Revenues and Benefits
(NOTE: Not all councils will necessarily be involved in each of the above projects as some already have different arrangements)
The partners will consider further areas for sharing over the next 12 -18 months prior to deciding whether to establish a jointly owned local authority company to take over the running of the programme in 2016.