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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 10/01/2006
PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE



Summary & Purpose
This report outlines recent developments and Government announcements about the structure of both local government and a range of other public sector bodies. It suggests a way forward for members to become involved in preparing for any changes that the Government may choose to bring in in the summer of 2006. It has no immediate resource implications but could have very significant implications in the medium and long term. It is proposed to establish a Special Interest Group to consider issues around proposed restructuring of local government.

APPENDIX E
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE - 10TH JANUARY 2006

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Title:
PUBLIC SECTOR ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
[Wards Affected: n/a]
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Summary and purpose:

This report outlines recent developments and Government announcements about the structure of both local government and a range of other public sector bodies. It suggests a way forward for members to become involved in preparing for any changes that the Government may choose to bring in in the summer of 2006. It has no immediate resource implications but could have very significant implications in the medium and long term. It is proposed to establish a Special Interest Group to consider issues around proposed restructuring of local government.
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Environmental implications:

There are no direct environmental implications arising, but protecting Waverley’s environment will become a key issue in any proposals for structural change in local government.

Social / community implications:

There are no immediate social and community implications, but making sure that local government and other public sector structures can represent the interests of Waverley’s communities will be a paramount consideration.

E-Government implications:

Any future restructuring will be based on a far more e-enabled range of organisations, and this can be built into the new structures.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no immediate resource implications, but there could be major resource implications in staff time in preparing for any proposals for review and reacting to Government legislation.
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Introduction

1. The Government has made it clear that it wants to see a major cultural and structural change in the public sector. It now has a conception of a dual role for public sector bodies, acting at a strategic, possibly regional, level and a ‘neighbourhood’ level where community representation and leadership is the main consideration. This is part of the policy objective of modernising public services and generating service improvements and efficiencies.

2. The Government has made a range of announcements formally about reviews to the structure of the Health Service and the Police Service, and is also talking about future changes to the structure of learning and skills councils. In parallel with the review into local government finance headed by Sir Michael Lyons, it has suggested that structure inevitably will be drawn into any proposals about the future of local government finance. Accordingly, whilst there has been a whole range of public and media announcements and ministerial speeches, the Council is in an unusual position where there are no formal proposals for it to react to. However, it seems that to protect the interests of Waverley’s community, the Council should start preparatory work to anticipate proposals from the Government.

Government Proposals

3. As explained above, there are firm proposals for structures in some area, which have very quickly, over the last few months moved across to a consideration of the whole role and structure of local government. The other public sector areas involved are as follows:-

b) Police Service
The restructuring proposed for the Police Force follows a report by HM Inspector of Constabularies, which concluded that the current Police Force structure across the country was no longer ‘fit for the purpose’ for ‘21st Century policing’.

The Inspector of Constabularies has worked on the basis of organisational capacity, and concluded that forces of approximately 4,000 officers were needed to ensure resilience in dealing with major incidents. Assurances have been given that local policing through the Basic Command Units will not be affected.

Option 1 Surrey, Sussex and Kent = 8,683 officers
2 Surrey and Sussex = 5,053 officers
3 Surrey Sussex and Hampshire = 8,856 officers
4 Surrey and Hampshire = 5763 officers

All Members were given copies of the Surrey Police consultation form, but the timescale was so tight it was not possible to formulate a Waverley response.

c) Fire Service

There are comprehensive proposals for modernising the Service and for setting up Regional Control Centres.

d) Armed Services

There are extensive proposals for new regimental structures.

4. In 1992, there was a round of local government review. This review made changes in parts of the country by creating unitary authorities in England within two tier shire areas. These changes were not as widespread as might have been the case and Waverley, along with other local authorities in Surrey were not affected by any reorganisation.

5. In the autumn and winter months of 2005, there has been more and more conversation about the potential for local government reorganisation. At this stage there have been no formal pronouncements made by the Government in this respect. However, it is understood that the Minister with responsibility for local government - David Miliband MP – is interested in reviewing local government. It is reported that he is of the view that the two-tier system is confusing to local residents who do not understand which organisation is responsible for which public service. It is reported that he also considers that by combining local authorities there would be potential for greater cost efficiencies and reductions in duplication. The Government has indicated a preferred population size for unitary councils in the range of 3-400,000.

6. Lyons Review

The Government response to the review of Local Government finance by Sir Michael Lyons concluded in the summer that its terms of reference should be extended. A copy of the Local Government Association briefing note is attached as Annexe A.

7. Local Government Response to Government Developments

County Councils have been working together nationally to put a case for their becoming unitary authorities. In the South East region a detailed case has been put forward to Government for Surrey, East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Kent, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to become unitary authorities. The LGA nationally is in a difficult position because of its role in representing the two upper tiers of local government.

The proposal to create a District Councils Special Interest Group reported earlier to the Executive is a response to the work already done by County Councils. The terms of reference for this are being worked up and could be considered by the proposed Special Interest Group.

8. Should local government review come onto the agenda, it is considered that matters may move forward swiftly – certainly this has been the case with the proposals for PCT and Police re-organisation. It is considered that it would be prudent for the Council to be pro-active about the potential for local government and be ready to respond positively should this be necessary. Before the last protracted local government review in England there was a very swift process in Scotland and Wales. It is possible that the target date for implementation could be 2008, with elections in May 2007 for the shadow Councils.

Conclusion

9. It is proposed that a Special Interest Group be established to assist the Leader of the Council to consider issues as they emerge, assimilate information and make proposals about how the Council might respond to the change agenda in order to best protect the interests of the people of Waverley. This could involve meeting representatives of other Councils in Surrey to discuss a joint approach.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:

1. the report be noted; 3. 7 Members be appointed to the SIG; and
4. the initial terms of reference for the SIG be as follows:-

To prepare for any proposals from government for Local Government Reorganisation and if appropriate to meet other representatives of councils in Surrey and neighbouring counties.

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Background Papers (CX/DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk

John Swanton Telephone: 01483 523375

E-mail: jswanton@waverley.gov.uk


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