Hart and Rushmoor are looking at working together more closely. The topic will be considered by Hart Cabinet next week. Regular readers may remember that we put forward the idea of Hart sharing resources with another Council last year. Rushmoor was one of the candidate councils.
They have produced a “Joint Working Together” statement. This covers the opportunity for a number of benefits:
- A reduction in overall costs. By identifying ways to deliver services and share resources, it will be possible to reduce duplication and overall management costs.
- A stronger voice in the County and with Government. The increased scale and combined resources will bring a stronger voice to represent our communities.
- Improved joined-up service delivery. By working closely together, in an area that shares many similar challenges and history, it will be possible to deliver better organised, coordinated and joined up services for our communities.
- Better use of scarce resources. The combined capability of two organisations working collaboratively together to recruit and jointly manage, will provide an opportunity to attract and retain higher calibre candidates.
- Improved resilience. In potentially sharing services and staff resources, over time each council will improve its resilience to deal with both planned an unplanned event.
They are looking specifically at creating a shared Chief Executive and sharing more services. They rule out a full merger of the Councils. The paper specifically about sharing the chief executive is has been restricted. The formal words suggest they are just at the stage of creating the business case for sharing a Chief Executive. However, the statement says that an early step would be to
“Establish a process to appoint a shared Chief Executive responsible for leading the change programme across both councils.”
This suggests the business case step is little more than a formality. Indeed, the timeline suggests a new chief exec will be in place by November 2022.
In our view, the business case should be very simple. Currently, the two councils employ 3 CEOs between them. Even if they have to pay the new CEO more money, there’s opportunity for savings of around £250K per year across both councils. Plus, there’s opportunity to consolidate the senior management teams.
We welcome this project and look forward to seeing it develop. However, we note that late last year Hart’s leader, Dave Neighbour defended the current management structure when we challenged him. So, there is a doubt about whether his heart is really in it.