Closer ties will save money and improve services, say two authorities.

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NORTH Devon Council and Torridge District Council have strengthened their commitment to closer working with the appointment of three joint working roles.

Kate Little has started work as the two councils’ new joint head of strategic development and planning.

Meanwhile, North Devon’s Steve Hearse will serve both councils as the interim head of financial services, and Torridge’s Ricky McCormack has taken on the role as interim head of waste and recycling for the two authorities.

Torridge council leader Councillor Barry Parsons, said: “I have every confidence that these appointments will serve both councils well and feel sure that our communities will see the benefits of such joint working within a very short space of time.”

North Devon leader, Cllr Brian Greenslade, said he expected further joint working opportunities to follow but was currently unable to specify what these were.

He said: “There will be more of the same but this is far from a big bang approach – the arrangement between the two councils is an evolutionary one.

“We look forward to seeing the benefits that these joint positions bring, to our services and ultimately to our customers.”

Mr Greenslade ruled out any immediate plans to completely merge the two councils and said the short-term goal was to make efficiency savings and improve services.

“We want to see how the progress pans out and if it is sustainable and solid then it could be something that we look at for the future,” he said.

“Whether or not that happens, it would have to be built on solid foundations, not just a bit of paper with new lines drawn on it.”

The two joint interim heads will be in place for 12 months, when their roles will be reviewed to see whether the temporary arrangements could work on a permanent basis.

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