Collaboration work ongoing

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CIVIC chiefs say plans to work more closely in future with neighbouring local authorities in a bid to save millions of pounds are ongoing.

Hartlepool Borough Council, Darlington Borough Council and Redcar & Cleveland Council are currently working on detailed business plans which could see local authorities joining some services.

The collaboration initially focused on Hartlepool and Darlington, but work on producing a business case has been widened to include Redcar.

It could potentially see the councils sharing services across children’s, corporate and environmental services and other areas.

As previously reported, the estimated savings could be anywhere between £5m and £8m, but any real savings would not be made until 2013-14.

Cabinet members met yesterday to discuss the ongoing programme.

Local authorities across the region need to save millions of pounds due to national budget cutbacks, with Hartlepool facing cuts of up to £20m over the next five years.

Assistant chief executive Andrew Atkin said things had moved on since the cabinet first agreed proposals back in November, last year.

Mr Atkin said: “The work at that point was with Darlington and it has now been broadened to include Redcar & Cleveland.

“There have been no decisions other than to discuss the business case and that is what we are in the process of doing.”

He added that a members’ seminar had been arranged for August 14, in order to keep councillors informed of developments.

Cabinet members heard that work on developing a detailed business case for collaboration in respect of child and adult services is ongoing including looking at budgets, staffing and structures in place.

Mr Atkin said the council is also continuing to explore opportunities in respect of street lighting and waste disposal with discussions focusing on sharing equipment and skills to “address need”.

A number of “guiding principles” have already been agreed by cabinet members including:

l Each local authority will retain its individual identity and sovereignty with clear accountability;

l Collaboration must deliver demonstrable additional benefits to working separately.

Cabinet members noted the report.

The cost of the business case is estimated to be around £75,000, which is being covered by funding received from the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership.

Hartlepool and Darlington are already sharing some roles including HR and children’s services.

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