Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council have finalised a draft business case to consider the financial benefits of sharing a senior management team. Over the last three months a Joint
Working Group, with representatives from both councils, has considered establishing a single team who could work for, and manage teams across, both Councils.
The remit of the Joint Working Group was to evaluate the posts of Chief Executive, Directors, Heads of Service, and senior staff that report to a Chief Executive or Director. When preparing the business
case, Councillors considered other district councils who are already working together in this way, the protection of frontline services and the potential financial benefits.
After detailed discussion, the Joint Working Group has proposed that the creation of a shared senior management team is appropriate for both authorities. A new structure could comprise of one Chief
Executive, shared Directors and shared Heads of Service.
Consultation with staff, unions and councillors has begun and on October 6th, the Scrutiny Committees at both councils will consider the business case. The Joint Working Group will then take its recommendations, in the light of comments from elected members, staff and unions, to Cherwell’s Executive meeting (on 11 October) and South Northamptonshire’s Cabinet meeting (on 25 October).
A final decision will be made at the respective Council Meetings on 3 November.
This proposal does not represent a possible merger of the two Councils. South Northamptonshire’s 42 elected members and Cherwell’s 50 elected members would continue to represent their respective wards
and districts as they do now. They would also continue to develop separate policies, decide on strategic priorities and take decisions on areas such as services and funding as usual.
Councillor Ian McCord, Chairman of the Joint Working Group, says:
“The working group has spoken to other authorities who have adopted this approach and we conclude that the rewards outweigh the risks. The financial case is compelling and the non financial case is also very strong.
“These are challenging times and many, if not all, local authorities face significant financial pressures. We must do what we can to ensure that we deliver quality services in a cost efficient way. We believe that sharing a senior management team will help both councils deliver front-line services efficiently and could see Cherwell District Council achieve £3.4 million savings over five years, and South Northamptonshire Council could achieve £1.8 million during the same time frame.”
Councillor James Macnamara, Vice Chairman of the Joint Working Group, adds:
“We are all aware of the scale of challenge this country faces in light of the national deficit and local government will be asked to deliver its share of the pain. Both our organisations have worked hard
to reduce their costs over the past couple of years, whilst minimising the impact on the services used and experienced by local residents. The potential savings both councils could make from moving to a shared management team will ease substantially the pressure on us to make cuts to frontline services, which is something we would only do as an absolute last resort.”