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South Holland and Breckland District Councils end successful partnership after eleven years

Posted on 3 March 2021

South Holland and Breckland District Councils have mutually agreed to end their successful eleven-year partnership, in order to pursue new local strategic partnerships at each council.

Over the past decade, the two councils have successfully developed and operated a shared management and joint working arrangement - focused on putting local residents, communities and places first - despite one being in Lincolnshire and the other in Norfolk.

As well as producing productive joint working on strategy and policy development, helping to protect front-line services, and the recruitment and retention of skilled officers, the partnership has also saved taxpayers' money totalling around £4.4million, plus ongoing annual benefits to each council in excess of £0.5m, proving its value at a time where councils have found themselves under particular financial pressure.

However, with temporary separate management teams put in place to deal with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing national discussion around the Local Government Review process and the potential outcomes of this for each council, senior leaders at both sides have recognised the need to review their partnership and explore the case for changing the way the councils work together.

Both have decided that the best decision for the districts and its residents would be to develop a new strategic partnership within existing county boundaries, which will support them to carry on delivering great outcomes for their communities whilst also giving them the flexibility to adapt to a fast-changing and challenging local government environment.

This decision was made at full council meetings held at both authorities last week, with councillors keen to praise the success of the partnership and the mutual terms it was being taken on to react to changes in the national landscape. Formal consultation with affected staff will now start with immediate effect but both councils are committed to avoiding redundancies, wherever possible.

In a joint statement, Sam Chapman-Allen, Leader of Breckland Council, and Lord Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council, said:

"We've enjoyed a long and hugely successful partnership, so the decision to part company is not one either council has taken lightly. It's been a really positive experience for both councils which has helped deliver great outcomes for our communities while driving down costs.

"Our success is less to do with any formal structures we've put in place and far more to do with the great people who work on behalf of our districts - both our members and officers - and we thank them wholeheartedly for their support.

"So as sad as we are to draw an end to our partnership, we both remain committed to the benefits of shared working - and for us to be able to continue responding to a fast-changing local government landscape, now feels like the right time to look closer to home for new partners."