Councils forge link in bid to slash costs

HEADQUARTERS -- Ashfield District Council's main offices in Kirkby
HEADQUARTERS -- Ashfield District Council's main offices in Kirkby

ASHFIELD and Mansfield District Councils have agreed to combine their regeneration and economic development services to save nearly £100,000 between the two authorities.

The councils have been discussing ways of how they can share services to help cut costs without affecting the quality of services for residents since 2009.

Their regeneration and economic development departments were identified as a potential for a shared service due to work that had already been undertaken in developing a Joint Economic Masterplan.

Both authorities share ambitions to increase local economic growth, attract and retain investment and provide good business support and following consultation with staff and trade unions, a new department structure has been designed.

Existing staff have been incorporated into the roles of the new team - which will be based at Mansfield Civic Centre - but there will be a reduction of 3.88 full-time equivalent positions.

The new structure will represent a saving of £99,630 from salaries.

Coun Steven Carroll (Lab), portfolio holder for regeneration at Ashfield District Council, said: “I welcome the development of a shared regeneration service with Mansfield District Council, it well enable us to have more of a focus on the physical regeneration within Ashfield with a particular focus on our town centres.

“Partnership working sends out a strong message that Ashfield and Mansfield are places were businesses can invest and prosper, bringing increased prosperity to our district.”

Coun Kate Allsop (Ind), regeneration portfolio holder at Mansfield District Council, said that the partnership will ‘give north Nottinghamshire a bigger voice around the table’.

The councils have also signed up to an over-arching legal agreement which outlines how the shared service partnership will work.

Other areas identified as potential shared services include human resources, legal services and IT, though these will also be subject to staff and trade union consultation.

Richard Buckwell, chairman of Ashfield District Council’s Unison branch, said that the union supports the sharing of the regeneration and economic development department, but has some concerns about the reductions in staff.

“We have been persuaded that the service will be improved and the trade union generally supports proposals which deliver better services into the community,” he said.

“We’re satisfied the two councils are managing redundancy sensitively albeit we still have some concerns. We believe that both district councils need to be mindful of the amount of time and resource spent on investigating shared services in relation to the savings and/or benefit accrued from the shared service.”