Councils to explore possibility of merging services

TWO Comet country councils are exploring the possibility of sharing some of their services in a bid to save annually a quarter of a million pounds each.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) and Stevenage Borough Council (SBC), along with East Herts Council (EHC), are looking into whether it would be feasible to share their support services.

All three councils will discuss whether to prepare a detailed business case to look into the possibility at respective meetings within the next two weeks. Council reports indicate that they are all recommended to agree the proposal.

To develop such a case would cost each council an estimated �26,666. NHDC has said that it would fund this through its special reserve, with SBC looking to fund either through existing resources or a building reserve.

It is not known, and will not become clear until it is properly explored, whether there would be any redundancies as a result.

On behalf of the three councils, John Campbell, chief executive at NHDC said: “The three authorities have been working hard over the last few months to try and identify new ways of working together.

“All three partners hope that sharing some services will deliver significant financial savings as well as provide sustainable and resilient support services for the future.”

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The services that will be explored, if the three councils agree, include ICT, human resources and payroll, facilities management, print, and exchequer services. NHDC and EHC would also look at sharing estates management.

According to a Strategic Business Case prepared by the councils, the driving force behind the proposal is to save �750,000 annually between them. It is proposed that for the first three years this be shared equally, with the possibility of apportioning the savings a different way thereafter.

Mr Campbell added: “If the decision is taken to move ahead to develop a detailed business case, staff in affected areas will be fully consulted and involved in the process.”

SBC will decide whether to proceed on Monday, October 31, with NHDC and EHC making a decision on Tuesday, November 8.