Waverley Borough Council Home Page Waverley Borough Council Home Page


Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 16/05/2006
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM - LATEST POSITION



Summary & Purpose
This report updates the Executive on the latest position on Local Government Review and the next steps, following the agreement at the Council meeting on 26th April to the Executive’s recommendations from its meeting on 4th April, and the addition of a further explanatory resolution to ‘the Council pursues active co-operation and the benefits of partnership working with Guildford and Woking Borough Councils and all other adjacent Councils’.

APPENDIX C
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE - 16TH MAY 2006
_________________________________________________________________________
Title:
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM - LATEST POSITION

[Wards Affected: All]
_________________________________________________________________________
Summary and purpose:

This report updates the Executive on the latest position on Local Government Review and the next steps, following the agreement at the Council meeting on 26th April to the Executive’s recommendations from its meeting on 4th April, and the addition of a further explanatory resolution to ‘the Council pursues active co-operation and the benefits of partnership working with Guildford and Woking Borough Councils and all other adjacent Councils’.
_________________________________________________________________________
Environmental implications:

There are no direct environmental implications arising, but protecting Waverley's environment is a key policy for Waverley and will become a key issue in any proposals for structural change to Local Government.

Social / community implications:

Again, no immediate implications, but making a positive input to try to ensure that Local Government structures represent the interests of Waverley's communities will be a key challenge for Waverley. There are major partnership implications for Waverley's joint working with Town and Parishes and Surrey County Council and for working with other public and voluntary sector partners.

E-Government implications:

Any possible future restructuring will be based on organisations that have become far more e-enabled and this will form an important part of the Government's decision making on this.

Resource and legal implications:

There are significant immediate resource implications for staffing in preparing for any response and subsequently reacting to the Government White Paper and later legislation. It may be that the Council needs to prepare for the possibility of commissioning consultants, either singly or jointly, and, again, this will have budgetary implications for which there is no provision at present in 2005/2006 or 2006/2007 budgets.
_________________________________________________________________________
National Scene

1. The summary of the interim report from Sir Michael Lyon’s review of Local Government functions and finance is attached as Annexe 1. The best information available on the forthcoming White Paper is that it is still likely to be issued by the Government in June this year.
Other Public Sector Organisation Restructures

2. With regard to Surrey Police, the Home Office has now issued a formal consultation document about its proposals for a merger of Surrey and Sussex Police. The consultation period is around three months, and officers will report further once Surrey Police has produced its own consultation document. Surrey Police Authority is still considering how best to respond and officers will report back when the Police Authority has agreed its position.

3. The Primary Care Trust and other health service restructuring proposals are progressing and the officer report to Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee is attached as Annexe 2.

Developments in Surrey

4. Surrey Local Government Association has discussed the Government’s proposals under the forthcoming White Paper and has worked hard to try to agree a constructive approach to this between all Surrey and District Borough Councils and Surrey County Council. The SLGA is keen that all Councils are seen to work together to improve services to the public and, accordingly, has agreed a protocol attached as Annexe 3 on how Councils should approach the Government’s review. At the meeting when this was discussed, the Leader referred to the need to exchange information openly and it was agreed that this was implicit in the protocol.

5. An ad hoc grouping of Borough and District Council Leaders has started to explore ways of Borough Councils working together. Officers will report to the next meeting on proposals for further joint working. Waverley Initiatives 6. The Leader is endeavouring to arrange a meeting with the Leader of Mole Valley as soon as possible to explore both the possible option of some form of grouping with Mole Valley and also to see if Waverley can learn from the work on improving services that Mole Valley, Tandridge and Reigate and Banstead have commissioned. Officers will include an update item for the next meeting with Town and Parish Councils on 10th July, and will invite Surrey Police to attend to present on the Home Office proposals.

Interim actions until the White Paper is produced

7. Officers’ perception is that the focus both across Surrey and Nationally seems to be shifting to avoiding the types of battles which characterised the last round of Local Government review in the mid-1990s. The emphasis now seems to be on concentrating on co-ordinating work and joint working between Councils, which can improve services to the public under a range of options which might appear in the White Paper, from an enhanced status quo to various types of unitary groupings of Councils. The Government and Councils in Surrey and Waverley also have acknowledged that there is potential for increase co-operation between Councils which can both lead to improved services to the public and efficiency savings. The advantage of this approach is also that any work put in by officers or external support can be used regardless of whether or not proposals eventually come forward for structural change.


8. The new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly, has reaffirmed the commitment to produce a White Paper but stressed the importance of Council leadership of communities and the key issue of affordable housing as her priority. In the new Secretary of State's briefing to her Department, she refers to the White Paper as "drawing together proposals to enable local government to play a stronger leading role in their own communities". Special Interest Group - Terms of Reference

9. The terms of reference initially agreed by the Executive for the Special Interest Group are as follows:- 10. In effect, the Council’s decision has modified this somewhat, and it might be appropriate to redefine the SIG's terms of reference so that it consists of the following:- Resource Implications

11. The staff time needed to respond to the White Paper depends on how far-reaching its proposals are. However, it seems likely it will put pressure on staff and staff may need extra help, either externally or by temporary appointment, to avoid pressure on Waverley’s continuing services. It may also be necessary to agree a programme at the June meeting of the Executive to respond very quickly to the White Paper.

Recommendations

It is recommended that

1. the revised Terms of Reference for the Special Interest Group be agreed, and the Lyons Inquiry interim report and Surrey LGA Protocol be referred to the SIG for consideration;

2. officers be asked to actively continue to explore opportunities for joint working with other Councils;

3. officers be asked to report further on resource implications as soon as the White Paper has been received; and

4. Surrey Police be invited to attend the next Town and Parish Councils meeting on 10th July 2006.

________________________________________________________________________

Background Papers (HCMS)

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

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Robin Pellow Telephone: 01483 523222

E-mail: rpellow@waverley.gov.uk



Comms/Executive/2006-07/004
48365