Three Norfolk councils plan merger

Three councils with headquarters spread 100 miles apart are edging nearer sharing management teams.

As reported in the EDP, Breckland and South Holland councils have been working closely together for about 18 months and have a single chief executive and senior managers.

It is estimated that both authorities have saved more than �500,000 in costs since the link up started.

Last summer, Great Yarmouth Borough Council announced it was entering discussions to create a three-way partnership.

Now all three councils are looking at detailed reports on the implications of the merger and are expected to give the go-ahead next month for formal consultation and final decisions could be made in May.

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On Wednesday, Great Yarmouth council's cabinet agreed to recommend to a special council meeting on March 8 that there should be formal consultation on the plan.

Council leader Steve Ames said: 'We recommend this believing that it will bring many benefits to Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

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'These include a year on year saving of �140,000 which will help us maintain other services from cuts, access to a wider range of professional managers to aid our resilience and will enable continuation and focus on important projects and opportunities which the borough has by ensuring a blend of managers including those with existing local knowledge.'

Breckland Council's general purposes committee discussed a confidential 50-page report on the extended shared management proposal and it will go to the cabinet on Tuesday.

Breckland's full council will then make a final decision on March 9. South Holland's full council will have a special meeting on March 7.

Terry Huggins, who is joint chief executive of Breckland and South Holland councils, said: 'We are at the point of finalising the report and going forward for decisions to be made.'

He said a formal consultation would then be carried out with trade unions and staff.

Mr Huggins said the meetings were currently being held behind closed doors as there were issues relating to staff which could not be discussed in public.

He stressed that the reports were only looking at the management team roles and not other tiers of staff.

Mr Huggins admitted the joint management team would be smaller than the existing number but he said there were currently vacancies among council managers.

'We will do it with the minimum number of redundancies,' he said.

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