Council togetherness is ‘great success’

The Civic Centre, Barnstaple

The Civic Centre, Barnstaple - Credit: Archant

North Devon and Torridge council leaders hail a ‘closer binding’ of the two councils and the £862,000 saved.

TWO years of working together and sharing services have been hailed as a huge success by the leaders of North Devon and Torridge district councils.

After meeting with staff on Friday, Brian Greenslade and Barry Parsons told the Gazette the joint working initiative had so far led to savings of £862,000 in public money.

The councils now share five joint heads of department and both leaders thanked staff for working with them through the changes.

“During this very difficult time the savings are a positive achievement in themselves, but in some areas we have been able to increase the councils’ capacity, so doing more for less,” said Mr Greenslade, leader of North Devon.

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“There’s so much in common between the two that it seems to make sense to do as much together as possible.”

Mr Parsons added: “When we started all this it was about how we could get greater recognition for northern Devon – when you look at other parts of the county I think by comparison we deserve more in this part of the world.

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“We have to think of the future for families and young people, we have to have jobs and we’re looking at opportunities to do that.”

Both said there were no current plans for redundancies and although they could not say what the future held, were working closely with staff and keeping them informed.

On the question of whether the councils might merge, Mr Greenslade said: “Barry and I are pretty clear we are not yet ready to think about a formal merging, we want to embed joint working in place, make sure it’s working successfully.

“We often get asked where this is going to lead to and at this stage I think this is leading to a binding together of the two councils, which is evolving all the time and growing stronger.

“Possibly after the 2015 election, the powers-that-be might look at whether they end up bringing the two forward together, but it’s a bit early to rush into that.”

Mr Parsons added: “It is important we monitor the progress of the situations we have put in place. We’ve not been in this position before – it’s a planning process as well as seeing how others have done it, but we will make the decisions for ourselves.

“We don’t know what is going to be there in the future, but what we need to do is build a position of strength.”

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