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District council partnership set to continue - at least for now

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A decade-long partnership will continue – in part – months after two councils split.

Despite Breckland and Lincolnshire’s South Holland Council (SHC) ending their partnership in February, councillors have agreed to continue sharing services and officers.

At Thursday’s full council meeting, Ian Sherwood, cabinet member for governance, said: “The shared management agreement entered into by Breckland council and South Holland is now largely obsolete, except it allows the councils to continue sharing officers where necessary.”

Ian Sherwood, Breckland councillor for Swaffham (5856357)
Ian Sherwood, Breckland councillor for Swaffham (5856357)

Mr Sherwood asked councillors to agree for the council’s to continue the arrangement until “both better understand how they want to provide services in the future”.

The council will be forming a section 113 agreement with SHC, allowing them to share legal services team officers, procurement and contracts team officers and the environmental protection business support officer.

Responding to a question from the council’s Labour leader, Terry Jermy, the monitoring officer said there would be no additional costs as a result.

Breckland Council logo (9601268)
Breckland Council logo (9601268)

Speaking after the meeting, a spokesperson for the council said sharing staff would be cost-neutral, once all of the financial considerations, including staff costs, travel and mileage, were considered.

The Green Party’s Timothy Birt was concerned about the carbon impact of the plans, but the monitoring officer said the shared services could be done virtually.

Councillors unanimously agreed to support the agreement.

Despite being 50 miles apart the two councils shared services and a chief executive since 2010.

In February, councillors said the preference was for a new local partner.

Sam Chapman-Allen, the leader of the council said the split had not been due to a failure of the partnership.

“At no point is this a reflection on the officers or the members, and a failing of the partnership,” he said.

“It is very much just a new opportunity for us in the light of Covid to look to the county of Norfolk for what the future could look like in local government.”

On Thursday, Breckland councillors also agreed to seek a new chief executive officer, having had an interim chief since the departure of Anna Graves, in September 2020.

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