To set out the recommendations from Stage One of the Review of the future of the Integrated Shared Management Structure and Joint Working Arrangements between Breckland and South Holland District Councils (report of the Head of Paid Service & Strategic Advisor enclosed).
Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Paid Service & Strategic Advisor which set out the recommendations from Stage One of the Review of the future of the integrated Shared Management Structure and Joint Working Arrangements between Breckland and South Holland District Councils.
The following additional, fourth recommendation was tabled at the meeting, and members were advised that this additional recommendation would also be considered at Breckland Council’s equivalent Cabinet meeting. The additional recommendation would allow for decisions to be taken more swiftly, once the staff consultation period had ended:
· It is recommended that, subject to there being no material changes to the senior management structure following consultation with officers, delegated authority is given to the Head of Paid Service, in consultation with the Leader, to implement the said structure.
The following issues were addressed:
· The Leader wished to make it clear that there were no negative reasons for the proposed ending of the partnership between South Holland District Council and Breckland Council. The partnership had been innovative and successful, and was coming to an end for a number of reasons: 1) the challenges that had arisen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, working across two counties; 2) the retirement of the Joint Chief Executive towards the end of 2020; and 3) the national agenda around Local Government Reorganisation, and the benefits of working with authorities within the same County. These issues had provided the driving force for the need to undertake a strategic review.
· Concern was raised that the proposed structure chart at Appendix 3 to the report showed Planning moving from being a Place-based function to Strategy and Resources (under Strategic Growth). In response, it was stated that this was only an interim position. A draft, interim structure had been produced which delivered structure proposals in line with the political weighting to the evaluation criteria, within the financial constraints, and which accommodated staff’s wishes, as far as possible, whilst the Authority was in negotiations with potential partners in the future.
· In response to a question regarding savings achieved by the South Holland/Breckland partnership, it was confirmed that in the first 5 years of the partnership, there had been savings of approximately £4.4 million with ongoing savings of £0.5 million per year. Over the life of the partnership, until the present time, on average £740,000 of savings had been delivered each year, totalling around £7.4 million over the life of the partnership.
· It was noted that, should one authority arrive at a new partnership before the other, assistance would still need to be provided between the authorities - Recommendation 2 of the report was in place to give a degree of flexibility and partnership working to address the situation when the partnership ended. It was noted that this agreement reflected the fact that the Breckland/South Holland partnership was ending in a positive way in its continued support for each authority. The Leader had made it clear to prospective partners within Lincolnshire that whatever future arrangements may be with them, South Holland District Council had a moral obligation to assist Breckland, should this be required.
· Members commented that whilst efforts were being made to complete the process as quickly as possible, it was also important that it was done correctly. With regard to whether there would be a greater cost should the interim structure remain in place for longer than anticipated, it was stated that the structure within the report was of no greater cost than the current arrangements, and that there were modest savings based on service assumptions. The Leader confirmed that this was an interim arrangement, and that more resilience was required when a Covid-recovery period came to pass.
RECOMMENDED TO FULL COUNCIL:
1) That the preferred option for the future of the integrated shared management structure and joint working arrangements between the two Councils, as set out in paragraph 1.8 of the report, be approved;
2) That clause 8 of the memorandum of agreement between Breckland District Council and South Holland District Council be activated, and any extension or shortening of the timeframe set out in clause 8.6A be authorised, by mutual agreement between the two parties, so far as may be considered appropriate by the Leaders, following consultations with their respective Cabinets;
3) That the interim structures to support and enable the achievement of the preferred option for both Councils be approved for consultation; and
4) That subject to there being no material changes to the senior management structure following consultation with officers, delegated authority be given to the Head of Paid Service in consultation with the Leader to implement the said structure.
(Other options considered:
· As is – this would act as the baseline option from which all other options will be compared and assessed; this option had been compared to the appraisal criteria for completeness.
· Improved Existing Partnership – this option would model the improvements, opportunities and challenges of the existing partnership arrangement.
· Standalone Authority – this option would model the improvement, opportunities and challenges for a standalone authority arrangement.
Reasons for decision:
· To support the outcome of the commissioned Review of the current integrated shared management and joint working arrangements;
· To support both Councils to achieve their preferred option;
· To maintain the integrity of the current shared arrangements; and
· To enable both Councils successfully to navigate the route to their preferred option whilst continuing to deliver and support their local communities and places effectively.)