Broadland and South Norfolk councils to agree collaborative approach

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. - Credit: Archant

Two of Norfolk's councils have agreed to work together more in future, in a scheme that could save them a combined £8.6m over the next five years.

Cabinet members of both Broadland district and South Norfolk councils agreed to a co-operative approach behind the scenes, which could eventually see the two sharing a single team of officers.

Following a 10-month feasibility study, members of both cabinets were briefed on the proposals, before individually agreeing the approach at their own meetings on Tuesday.

The approach has now been recommended to the full councils, which meet later this month to decide whether to move forward with it.

It is a move that will initially see the appointment of a joint managing director for the two councils, replacing the individual chief executives. There would then be a phased approach leading to a merged team of officers.

John Fuller, leader of SNC, said: 'This has not been a rushed process - we already have a rich history of working together.

'This is an opportunity to potentially save millions, so how can we look our residents in the eyes and say we did not take an opportunity to give them more value for their money?'

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Andrew Proctor, departing leader of BDC, added: 'Finance is not the one driving thing with this - it is about showing ambition and getting as many benefits as we can from working together.'

Mr Proctor, who is also leader of Norfolk County Council, said the collaborative approach would allow the councils to make themselves a more attractive prospect for government departments and unlock greater opportunities for future funding.

Indicative figures in the feasibility study estimated the two collaborative work could result in the councils saving a combined £8.6m over the next five years.

However, concerns were raised by trade union Unison over the possibility of the scheme resulting in compulsory redundancies among staff at both councils.

Broadland's scrutiny committee had requested the inclusion of a provision to ensure there would be no compulsory redundancies in recommendations, however, its cabinet agreed this could not be guaranteed.

Both full councils will make a final decision on the proposals on Thursday, July 12.