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Talks over two Norfolk councils sharing services and staff to continue

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:40 06 April 2018

Andrew Proctor and John Fuller, leaders of Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council.

Andrew Proctor and John Fuller, leaders of Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council.

Archant

The leaders of two Norfolk councils say studies suggest a move which would see their authorities share more services and a shared officer team is “a runner”.

But they say it is too early to say how much money such a move could save - or what the impact would be on jobs for staff at Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council.

The Conservative controlled councils - the two in the county which voted in favour of the aborted Norfolk and Suffolk devolution deal - are looking at sharing an officer team and more services.

In September last year, the councils agreed to develop a feasibility study to explore such a move. A progress report has just been published, which will come before members of both councils next week.

Initial proposals deemed to have potential include the creation of a joint strategic planning/growth delivery team, although both councils would retain their own planning committees.

That team would help to speed up development on major strategic sites in the two districts, such as at Long Stratton, Beeston Park and Rackheath.

The two councils have already been successful in a bid for £220,000 from the government’s planning delivery fund, which will set up at least 20 community planning groups across the two districts.

Other initial proposals are for joint approaches to driving economic growth and using technology to work more efficiently.

Mr Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said: “This feasibility study has confirmed that we have got a runner. Before we have spent too much money, it has confirmed the potential. We have to have councils which are relevant to how people live their lives.”

The pair stressed that, while cost savings are a potential and likely outcome of working more closely together, the proposal was not purely financially motivated.

Mr Proctor said it was too early to say what the move would save or cost, or what it would mean in terms of staff numbers. But he said: “The objective is not to take people out, but to have people in the right places doing the right things.”

Work will continue on feasibility studies, which will be presented to councillors in the summer.

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