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Council leaders vow to share the load as cuts continue

10:12 30 September 2013

Torridge District Council leader, Cllr Phil Collins.

Torridge District Council leader, Cllr Phil Collins.

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Torridge leader addresses North Devon councillors.

TORRIDGE District Council leader Phil Collins has vowed to continue to work more closely with North Devon but said the authority was also looking at ‘other options’ for the future.

Speaking to North Devon councillors in his first address to the neighbouring district since being elected Torridge leader, Councillor Collins hailed the shared services between the two councils as an effective way to help reach government cuts targets.

The two councils currently share interim heads of services for waste and recycling; legal; financial services; and human resources departments. They also share a joint head of planning and have formed the first joint community safety partnership in the country.

However, Cllr Collins said that he didn’t believe the 40 per cent cuts were ‘sustainable for any authority’ and that a unitary system of local government may eventually be necessary, which led some North Devon members to question his commitment to work together.

“We need to share a lot more,” he said. “But we will be looking at other councils as well to take advantage of other opportunities. Things have to stack up.”

North Devon leader Brian Greenslade said that the shared services between the two councils should be ‘celebrated’ but agreed that the time was not right for a formal amalgamation of the councils.

“Because of the pressures on both councils, at the moment I don’t think we can formally join together yet,” he said.

“We should do the same as Torridge and look at all opportunities to cut costs.”

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