Has districts' co-operation plan been derailed?

Plans for closer co-operation between South Ribble and Chorley Councils have slowed - although both authorities say that they remain committed to sharing more of their services.

Thursday, 6th December 2018, 5:11 pm
Updated Friday, 7th December 2018, 12:00 am
South Ribble and Chorley Councils already share two services...

The neighbouring boroughs announced in September that they were expanding an existing agreement and taking on senior managers to oversee newly-combined departments.

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But the cabinet member in charge of the process at Conservative-run South Ribble told a meeting of the full council that Labour-controlled Chorley was reluctant to move at the originally-planned pace.

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...and are planning to share two more.

Colin Clark, who was recently reappointed to the Corporate Support brief, said he had always championed the idea and wanted to see it move forward.

“There was a long delay in deciding what the structure should be so that it met the needs of the services we share at the moment - and also any additional services in future.

“Chorley were quite reticent about moving at my pace...and I have tried to push this forward as quickly as I can,” Cllr Clark said.

In a statement issued after the meeting in Leyland, leader of Chorley Council, Alistair Bradley, said: “We’re fully committed to sharing more services with South Ribble and we’re currently developing how the model will best work and a timeline for what will happen when.

Colin Clark, Conservative cabinet member for Corporate Support and Assets

“We expect this piece of work to be done over the next few months and we’ll be looking to recruit to the new shared services posts in May/June,” Cllr Bradley added.

Labour opposition group leader at South Ribble, Paul Foster, said the shared services expansion had “died a death” after the latest change of leadership at the authority. The council had three different leaders - including Cllr Foster himself - in the space of as many weeks in October.

“You can’t blame Chorley for not wanting to enter into any shared services with us at the moment - they will await the results of the election in May,” he said.

Cllr Clark called for the authorities to make a joint statement to update staff and residents after a meeting which he hopes will be held between the boroughs in January

Labour opposition leader Paul Foster

The two councils agreed to combine their legal and human resources functions three months ago. Four new shared posts will be created, with a director and assistant director being recruited for the existing and new areas of co-operation.

The districts have shared their their financial and assurance departments for several years. That arrangement is estimated to save the councils £500,000 per year between them.