Management merger defended by council leader

COUNCILLORS backed plans to merge their management team last week – and now hope to make money by taking on contracts for back office services for other authorities.

South Holland district councillors approved a deal to share its top officers with Breckland District Council in a bid to save cash – and also discussed the business plan for its back office merged service with East Lindsey District Council, called Compass Point.

The management deal was hailed as a “major step” by council leader Gary Porter and the authority hopes it will help them protect frontline services.

Last week we revealed that the council is set to have its Government grant cut by about 21 per cent, reducing its “spending power” by 8.53 per cent.

Independent members of the council raised concerns that the Breckland merger was not as “commercial” as that with East Lindsey and felt their partner authority had had more input into drawing up the deal – which aims to save £350,000.

Coun Bryan Alcock also questioned the need for a deputy chief executive position, with the person appointed set to pocket £121,760 including costs and travel.

Coun Alcock said: “The assistant chief executive is on a proposed level of renumeration which I thought we were trying to avoid.

“I am not totally convinced that what we are proposing is robust enough.

“I am left wondering who is the dog and who is the tail. There seems to be more Breckland input than there is South Holland – I just hope we are not being wagged.”

Coun Porter promised members that the Breckland deal is a joint plan and that the job search is looking for people with a commercial edge.

The plan involves trimming the number of managers across both councils from 36 to 18.

Coun Porter said the council should be proud of leading the way with merged services at a time when other authorities will have to follow suit due to tough cuts to their funding.

He said the deal will result in management job losses but will protect the things the public care about most.

He added: “The public aren’t interested in those jobs – they are interested in those frontline services.

“With this we will be able to maintain and, in some cases, improve the front line situation.”

He revealed that Compass Point has already attracted interest from parties who are keen to pay it to do back office work for them.

The interested parties include London boroughs – which Coun Porter said could help make “seriously big money” for the council.