Go-ahead for senior management merger
West Oxfordshire District Council has approved a proposal to merge most of its senior management team with neighbouring Cotswold District Council in a move which could realise additional joint savings of £1.2 million per year.
Meeting on 13 November, the Cabinet approved a proposal for a revised senior management structure which will allow closer working arrangements with Cotswold District Council.
Both Councils have shared the services of Chief Executive David Neudegg since 2008 and the number of staff, including senior officers, working across both authorities has continued to rise since that time.
Commenting on the decision Mr Neudegg said: “The joint working strategy that we have pursued to date has been effective without causing the sort of major disruption to services and staff which has been evident in some of the councils which have gone down this same route. To realise any further significant efficiency savings, we felt it would be necessary to commit to a higher degree of management and service integration.”
He added: “We think that the time is now right for the structures of the service units in the two councils to be aligned as much as possible to facilitate joint working in the future.”
The two councils currently have four directors - with two of these roles already shared – and 17 service heads. The approved proposal will see a phased reduction to three directors and the number of service heads cut back to 12, with 7 of them heading teams across both councils.
The service units earmarked to share heads are: Revenues and Housing Support; Business Information and Change; Legal and Property Services; Customer Services; Environmental Services; Public Protection; and Leisure and Communities.
Each council will however, retain separate heads for Planning and Democratic services. Additionally, the head of a Shared Services unit will continue to be responsible for the provision of human resources finance, payroll and procurement services to both Councils as well as local authorities in Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean.
The new structures will be phased in from January 2014 to be fully established by 1 April. A selection process to fill the new roles will start later this month and new appointments confirmed in December.
West Oxfordshire District Council Leader Cllr Barry Norton said: “We have been very successful in what we have done so far in moving forward with sharing staff and services. These efficiency changes have gone by unnoticed locally and have enabled us to maintain major frontline service to the residents of our district. We were one of the early councils to share services, which we have done in an evolutionary way. This sharing approach is enabling the Council to keep our independence, our individuality and do all of the things that helps make West Oxfordshire unique as a district in which to live.”
Cllr Mark Booty, Cabinet Member for Change, Improvement and Efficiency said: “Our successful working partnership with Cotswold is now well-established and has been a vital part of our efficiency savings programme. Combining more senior management posts is the next logical step to building greater resilience so we are in a position to meet future financial challenges.”
The changes are expected to save an annual total of £300,000 by 2014-15 rising to £1.2m by 2018-19.
The above decision was made at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 13 November. Cabinet’s decision is subject to the usual call-in period which runs until Friday 22 November.
Cotswold District Council’s Cabinet approved the same proposal when it met on Thursday 7 November.
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