Thursday, April 10, 2014
Huntingdonshire District Council is to form a ‘strategic partnership’ with neighbouring South Cambridgeshire that could see the two local authorities share more services and save millions of pounds.
The first shared service is likely to be building control, which could happen later this year.
The aim, according to the councils, is to improve services and protect residents from the ‘full force of national cuts’ to funding – central Government grants are predicted to cease completely in the next few years.
HDC executive leader Councillor Jason Ablewhite said: “We have a long associated good relationship with South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) and have historically worked well together on many strategic issues.
“It makes absolute sense that we work with like for like councils to deliver savings and collectively protect services as a result. We look forward to working with Ray Manning, leader of SCDC and his team. The work starts today.”
Cllr Ablewhite stressed that no service is currently off the agenda – everything will be looked at to determine if there is an effective saving, potentially worth millions in total, to be made with back office functions at both councils the first to be put under the spotlight.
Cllr Manning added: “Our grant funding from Government continues to be cut by millions of pounds and this partnership is a step change in the way we work which will make sure we can continue to deliver first class services to our residents and businesses. To achieve tough savings targets over the last four years we have already delivered efficiencies but with all the low hanging fruit picked a new way of working to protect the local people from the brunt of the cuts must be found.”
Over the last four years SCDC has been forced to cut £5million from its budget, HDC £7m.
But council bosses have said that a new approach is needed to ensure residents and businesses continue to receive ‘first class services’.
Both councils have said that the partnership – it’s not a merger they have stressed – will mean they can improve and protect services.
Reports to set out the direction of the partnership will be presented to both councils in July, when more detail will be available on where services and jobs can be shared and what savings these can deliver.
Jo Lancaster, HDC’s MD, said: “The reality for all district councils is that we are being asked to do more for less. To balance the books we need to take every opportunity to share services with a like-minded council where it makes sense to do so. This will allow us to protect the range and quality of services we provide to local residents.”
SCDC’s chief executive Jean Hunter added: “We have worked tirelessly over the last few years to deliver millions of pounds of efficiencies. However, this is proving more and more challenging and we want to be able to continue to deliver first class services for our residents and businesses. To do that, we need to see a step change in the way we work with other councils to deliver the best results possible for local people.”