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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 05/09/2006
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM – UPDATE AND DRAFT STATEMENT OF INTENT FOR JOINT WORKING WITH WOKING AND GUILDFORD BOROUGH COUNCILS



Summary & Purpose
This report updates Members on the position on proposals for developing joint working with Guildford and Woking Borough Councils, and proposes recommending a draft statement of intent to act as a framework for this joint working to the Council meeting in October.

APPENDIX G
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE – 5TH SEPTEMBER 2006

Title:
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM – UPDATE AND DRAFT STATEMENT OF INTENT FOR JOINT WORKING WITH WOKING AND GUILDFORD BOROUGH COUNCILS
[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

This report updates Members on the position on proposals for developing joint working with Guildford and Woking Borough Councils, and proposes recommending a draft statement of intent to act as a framework for this joint working to the Council meeting in October.
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Environmental implications:

There are no direct environmental implications arising, but protecting Waverley’s environment is a key policy for Waverley and could become a focus for joint working with other Councils in Surrey.

Social / community implications:

Again, no immediate implications, but working jointly with other Councils over a broader area could offer a better chance to represent the interests of Waverley’s communities. There are major partnership implications for Waverley’s joint working with Guildford and Woking Borough Councils, and with Towns and Parishes and Surrey County Council.

E-Government implications:

Any proposals for joint working may well involve extending use of information technology, both for management systems and for helping the community to get in touch with the Councils.

Resource and legal implications:

There could be some resource implications for staffing in preparing for any partnership proposals. However, one of the reasons for extending partnership working would be that in the long run there could be resource savings and savings in duplication by working across the three borough councils. There is currently no budgetary provision for partnership working projects with Guildford and Woking, however officers are working on the possibility of obtaining additional funds set aside by the Government to encourage this type of initiative.

Introduction

1. Members will recall that the Council’s current policy position is as follows:-

2. This position was agreed by the Council on 26th April 2006. However, since then the situation has continued to develop.

Current Position

3. The Local Government Reform Special Interest Group met on 13th July, and received a report on the latest position as explained by the new Minister for Communities and Local Government. This was explained both in policy statements from the new Ministry, and from statements made to the Local Government Association Annual Conference in July.

4. Since then the situation has been that the Government is working on drafting the White Paper which is now expected in the autumn. It seemed that the prospect of an enforced restructuring of Local Government was very unlikely. However, there are continuing media reports that there are elements within the Government that are in favour of some form of national local government restructuring.

5. There have also been media reports that Surrey County Council continues to be pursuing proposals for putting forward a case for some form of County Council based unitary authority. The Local Government Chronicle of 10th August reported that Surrey County Council was still “contemplating bidding for unitary status” together with seven other counties and was trying to seek information from the Ministry about whether or not “one of more districts can veto their unitary plans”. Despite formal contact with Surrey and efforts by officers to clarify Surrey’s position, to date there has been no further information forthcoming from Surrey on any such proposal.

Proposed Joint Working by Waverley with other Borough Councils

6. Officers and members have met with representatives of Guildford and Woking Borough Councils, and a draft statement of intent as a framework for joint working with these two Councils has been produced by officers.

7. The Local Government Reform SIG commended this at its meeting on 13th July, and a copy is attached as Annexe 1.

8. The SIG noted that the intention was to provide a framework to develop joint working for the benefit of all three Councils and their communities. However, the SIG also noted that it was not intended to be an exclusive solution and that links with other Councils which would offer service benefits for Waverley could continue to be explored. The SIG also noted that this might include possible cross county boundary links, such as some of the joint working in housing with the North Hampshire District Councils.
Implications for Partnership

9. The SIG also noted that as well as the proposals for working across borough council boundaries, the Council should also be pursuing ideas for improving partnership working vertically through the Local Strategic Partnership, Surrey Strategic Partnership and other informal links with town and parish councils.

Links with Town and Parish Councils

10. The SIG also discussed the need to maintain very close working relationships with the Town and Parish Councils across Waverley. The SIG discussed again the possibility of co-opting a representative or representatives of Town and Parish Councils, but felt that this communication link was best achieved by regular briefings to Waverley’s Joint Meetings with Town and Parish Councils. It was felt that it was important that all towns and parishes should feel involved and informed on what was happening in responding to the Government’s White Paper and other agendas which were encouraging partnership working.

Resource Implications

11. As explained above, there is currently no direct budget to fund any proposals for joint working with Guildford and Woking. However, it is proposed that officers explore further the staffing implications of any such proposals. The Statement of Intent also envisages link officers being nominated, and Management Team are working on who within Waverley would be best placed to perform this role.

12. The officers are also working on possible bids for benefiting from the improvement funds set aside by Government which are intended to encourage these types of initiative and act as seed-corn money for starting partnerships, which could have long term financial benefit to all of the Councils involved.

13. Members are reminded that the Council has agreed that a 5,000 contribution should be made to the Surrey Borough Councils Joint Project, which is a cross-county project organised by the Surrey Local Government Association.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. the current position on Local Government Reform be noted;

2. that the Council be recommended to adopt formally the Statement of Intent for achieving improved partnership working with Woking and Guildford Borough Councils; and

3. that Management Team be asked to identify specific projects and staffing that could form the nucleus of the Joint Working Project with Guildford and Woking.

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Background Papers (MD)

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





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