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Uncertainty over repair to broken shared service

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Two districts that fell out over shared services face fresh tension over delays in signing replacement service level agreements.

Hambleton and Richmondshire DCs scrapped their shared services deal earlier the year after a row when Hambleton sent chief executive Peter Simpson on gardening leave in February without consulting Richmondshire.

This followed a peer challenge review, which the two councils have refused to publish, one of few cases of such reports being kept secret.

Mr Simpson then left in May and the service sharing collapsed when Richmondshire objected to the idea that the councils should have one workforce but separate senior management teams.

The councils then decided on a series of service level agreements, in most cases with Hambleton supplying services to Richmondshire.

But a Hambleton cabinet report this month stated that draft agreements on legal services, human resources, communications and grounds maintenance had either not been drawn up or that Richmondshire had not responded to them.

The report said: “Hambleton has now done as much as is possible to progress service level agreements in the relevant areas.

“In the meantime, whilst services are being provided adequately, uncertainty remains over the future direction of certain Hambleton services and decisions on developments in those services (e.g. staffing) are being delayed pending the outcome of service level agreements.”

Richmondshire leader John Blackie (Ind) said he was waiting to announce a new management structure early next month before deciding which services to buy from Hambleton or other councils.

“There are three senior managers at present and I can’t say yet what the change will be, but there will not be many more of them,” he said.

“We are looking at very substantial savings, and at the service level agreements we need put in place.”

Hambleton deputy leader Ron Kirk (Con) said there was not a rift between the councils over the agreements, but “councillors were concerned that the agreements should be drawn up and be progressing.

“It is a challenge to Hambleton to get on and do something. I think the SLAs will be signed but if you have to repatriate people there are TUPE issues and that can drag on.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Councils should spend this sort of time seeking out best practice and knowledge. Shared services is like re-inventing the wheel by committee.

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