Council's agree to look at joining forces

PUBLISHED: 12:02 14 December 2009 | UPDATED: 12:27 10 June 2010

A SINGLE council boss for two jobs, one in East Devon and the other in South Somerset, could happen next year to save taxpayer cash.

A SINGLE council boss for two jobs, one in East Devon and the other in South Somerset, could happen next year to save taxpayer cash.

Last week the Journal revealed that while the argument about a single 'super council' to run Devon rages on, a collaboration of one Lib Dem controlled authority and one Tory, in two different counties, could lead to the biggest council partnership in England.

By February the two councils will report back on whether a shared chief executive, management team, procurement, specialists and management is a runner.

Councillors at both South Somerset and East Devon District Councils last week agreed to 'explore the possibility' of joint management and shared services under a single Chief Executive.

If taken up the new arrangements, they say, would preserve services, save taxpayers money and to respond to cuts in Government funding over the coming years.

Both councils would remain separate with their own councillors and elections and serve their existing populations.

Councillor Tim Carroll, Leader of South Somerset District Council said that residents were more concerned about delivery of services and less concerned about the numbers of managers.

"All councils are well aware of the money we will all need to save... to allow us to continue delivering the extent and quality of services that we do now at the same time as meeting the savings that will inevitably be needed, we need an alternative solution and East Devon are of the same mind frame."

Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: "Working closely with neighbouring councils to save costs and share best practice is preferable to the unitary model currently being proposed by the Government.

"Members of EDDC have signaled their willingness to explore joint working and sharing managers; the possibility of a closer relationship with SSDC is an example of this and we are pleased to explore the mutual advantages this could offer."

Mark Williams, EDDC's Chief Executive, said: "There are good synergies between the two councils in terms of their size, culture and consistent leadership and this is an exciting development."

Phil Dolan, Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council, said: "...a partnership of the two biggest districts in the South West will also be the biggest such partnership arrangement in England. We are confident that bigger councils can equal bigger savings."

The report will come back to both councils in February.

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