Council merge hurdle cleared

PUBLISHED: 09:18 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:52 07 July 2010

ANOTHER key hurdle is set to be cleared this week as two Norfolk councils work towards merging their staffs.

ANOTHER key hurdle is set to be cleared this week as two Norfolk councils work towards merging their staffs.

Breckland and South Norfolk authorities want a “marriage” of services while keeping their current councillors.

They have been awarded £90,000 from the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (RIEP) to pay for some of the costs of developing the partnership.

South Norfolk has already agreed to dedicate £45,000 worth of officer time to explore the merger plans and on Friday Breckland members will be asked to back a similar figure.

All local authorities have been warned to face big cuts in the amount they receive from central government and the alliance is seen as a key way of helping to save money.

In a report to an extraordinary meeting of Breckland, chief executive Trevor Holden said saving had already been made from reorganisation within the council.

But he added: “We will be challenged to deliver further efficiency savings, without having an adverse impact on service levels.”

Mr Holden said South Norfolk was a “preferred partner” and the marriage would “remove duplication and gain economies of scale.”

The aim is for a feasibility study to be completed by March, a business case to be worked up by April and a so-called sharing framework agreement to be jointly signed in May.

No indications have been given so far about how many staff may be lost from either authority.

The whole process could be torpedoed if the government backs plans for a single council for Norfolk.

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