Great Yarmouth councillors agree to merge with Breckland and South Holland

Councillors in Great Yarmouth last night voted in favour of a partnership with Breckland and South Holland councils.

At a meeting held in the town hall, 19 councillors voted in favour of the arrangement while 13 opposed it.

Leader of the council, Steve Ames, said: 'We will have an experienced management team which will be able to offer advice and guidance. It was possible that we would share services whether we entered an arrangement or not. It is services to residents that we want to protect.'

Opposing the merger, councillor Mick Castle said: 'The geography is wrong, the demography is wrong, the projected savings are low and the risks are high.

'We should explore opportunities for shared services with Norwich and Lowestoft - all three of us still retain council housing.'

The merger is likely to be agreed tonight at Breckland's full council, after South Holland voted on Wednesday. If approved, a consultation with unions and staff will begin.

Breckland Council chief executive Terry Huggins would be likely to head all three authorities during the implementation period before a long-term appointment is made. The merger aims to save about �333,000 per year – covering all three councils – in staff costs. No details have been revealed about the specific number of posts which would be lost, but in a report, total redundancy costs are estimated at �240,000 – plus a further �76,000 if Mr Huggins is made redundant.

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Richard Packham, Yarmouth's managing director, has already indicated he would be willing to take voluntary redundancy if the merger goes ahead.

In a report, Mr Huggins said: 'Working with a shared management team requires officers and members to be flexible in developing new ways of working. Use of video conferencing and other communications methods will be used to avoid unnecessary travelling.'

The report reveals pay bands for the new structure, with the chief executive earning between �100,879 and �124,004 annually, the deputy chief executive and directors on �82,064 to �100,879, assistant directors on �54,311 to �66,763 and heads of service earning between �46,115 and �54,311.

The councils would remain independent and staff below senior management would remain with one authority.

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