Council partnership ‘on hold’

THE sharing of council bosses by the district council and an authority in Somerset has been put on hold, but both would continue to share a chief executive.

THE sharing of council bosses by the district council and an authority in Somerset has been put on hold, but both would continue to share a chief executive.

Last year East Devon District Council and South Somerset District Council began the process of sharing key senior officers and sharing a chief executive.

Shared savings were estimated at �2.1m annually after initial setup costs of �3.1m.

But after just six months the process has been halted after a spokesman for SSDC said that their expected budget gap this year of �2.3m had been whittled down to �900,000.


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She said: “We are confident we can set a balanced budget this year.

“No council wants to make redundancies if they don’t have to.

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“Therefore it is looking like, for this financial year, there is no need to immediately progress with a shared management structure, and the intention…is to pick up the work on a shared senior management structure next year. “This was always one of the options open to both councils when we first mooted the idea of a partnership agreement.”

A spokesman for EDDC added that both councils look to set balanced budgets and would ‘return to the possibility of linking up’ again as part of the process for preparing the 2012-13 budgets.

East Devon taxpayers had paid �165,000 towards the redundancy package of the chief

executive of South Somerset District Council and the postponement of the agreement has lead to concerns that EDDC has wasted money.

But Chief Executive of both authorities Mark Williams denied this and said he would continue to serve both authorities and the arrangement was governed by a legal contract.

“This was always one of the options open to both councils when we first mooted the idea of a partnership agreement. Timing of such arrangements has to be right for all parties,” he said.

“So far as EDDC is concerned, members and officers will be continuing with the ongoing process of assessing and identifying options for setting a balanced budget, in the same way as our colleagues are at SSDC.”

He added that ‘the pause’ in the joint management discussions did not change the fact that both councils stand to gain significant savings in years to come from a strategic partnership.

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