The first ever three-way shared management arrangement could be in the offing after Great Yarmouth BC announced it was in talks with two existing partners.
The authority is in discussion with South Holland and Breckland DCs about the possibility of merging its management team with their existing shared management structure.
South Holland and Breckland have shared chief executive Terry Huggins, left, for a year and have been looking for a third partner to investigate the possibility of a trio.
Great Yarmouth leader Steve Ames (Con) said: “Breckland and South Holland DCs have demonstrated the way in which shared management can work and my council is delighted to be able to seize this opportunity to explore working with them.”
The arrangement, if it went ahead, would make Great Yarmouth more resilient, he said, as well as “give access to a wider range of management skill and experience, allied to better recruitment and retention prospects”.
He added: “Local government is changing rapidly and these talks put Great Yarmouth in the vanguard of this change. We are taking control of our destiny and ensuring that this authority is structured in a way that can meet the challenges we face head on.”
Great Yarmouth has been looking for another council with whom it could cut management costs and as recently as July this year talks with South Norfolk Council were called off due to a lack of common ground.
Breckland leader William Nunn (Con) said discussions so far had focused on how a management team shared between three authorities could work “efficiently and effectively”.
The trio are hoping to complete talks by the end of the year so they can put forward a proposal at the start of 2012.
Cllr Nunn said: “We are acutely aware as we enter these talks that there will inevitably be a period of uncertainty for staff at all three authorities. We will endeavour to deal with all issues that arise in a sensitive, consultative and timely manner.”
South Holland leader Gary Porter (Con) said: “Our aim is to ensure that we keep locally accountable elected member representation at the heart of local government whilst still making the savings that our communities expect us to make and at the same time protecting the services that they care about.”
The three non-neighbouring councils are spread across two counties with almost 100 miles distance between them. Great Yarmouth’s town hall, on the Norfolk coast, is 40 miles, or a 50 minute drive, westwards to Breckland’s offices. It is then another 50 miles, or 1 hour and 20 minute drive, further west to South Holland’s town hall in Lincolnshire.
Cllr Porter said video-conferencing and other technology would minimise the need to officers to travel long distances. “Geographically, it would be better if we were right on top of each other but having good people to work with is more important. It’s about finding people you can get on with.”