February 3, 2021 12.52 pm This story is over 39 months old

South Holland and Breckland councils break up

10-year partnership ending

South Holland District Council is to break-up with a Norfolk district council after 10 years of shared services.

The authority has been in partnership with Breckland District Council -50 miles away – since 2010, even sharing some leadership until last Autumn when Anna Graves stepped down.

However, they are both now going their own way.

Council leader Lord Gary Porter said: “Over the past decade, Breckland and South Holland District councils have successfully developed and operated a shared management and joint working arrangement – focused on putting local residents, communities and places first.

But the local government landscape has changed considerably over the past year or so, and both councils have recognised the need to review their partnership and explore the case for changing the way our councils work together.”

He said the authority was looking for arrangements that would keep “delivering great outcomes” but that were also flexible and adaptable.

“The best way to do this would be by pursuing a new local strategic partnership at each council, bringing to an end the long-term and successful current shared arrangement which has served both councils well over the last decade.

South Holland District Council leader, Lord Gary Porter.

SHDC’s cabinet has already agreed to the measures, and a further report is set to go before a monitoring panel next Tuesday ahead of a final decision by full council on February 24.

Agenda reports praise the work the partnership has undertaken over the past 10 years, referring to a “pioneering spirit” and a “continued focus on evolving” a successful shared management and joint working arrangement model.

However, they said that “as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic” a “temporary uncoupling” of shared managers saw two locally-focused management teams created and their existence extended until March.

It adds that the previous chief executive has not been replaced and will not be until a review of the partnership has been completed.

“Both leaders are keen to explore the opportunity this now presents, in terms of the potential next steps for the partnership,” said the report.

A Breckland Cabinet meeting on Monday saw councillors there agree to ending the partnership.

Councillor Sam Chapman-Allen, leader of the Breckland council, said: “At no point is this a reflection on the officers or the members, and a failing of the partnership.”

The move comes as the district looks to strengthen ties with its East Coast neighbours in Lincolnshire.

Later this month neighbour Boston Borough Council is set to decide whether it will buy into another 10-year-old public services partnership company between South Holland and East Lindsey District Councils, which is hoped to save £849,000 over the next five years.

The authority also recently signed up to a “strategic alliance” with East Lindsey, which it hopes will save another £15.4million over the next 10 years.

The leaders of all three councils joined other Lincolnshire districts in hitting out against a county council bid to restart devolution talks in 2020.

Council leaders in Lincolnshire butted heads over devolution plans in 2020.

Lincolnshire County Council chief Councillor Martin Hill, jointly with the leaders of North and North East Lincolnshire Councils asked government to look again at plans to reorganise local government across the region, but were roundly rejected.

District councils hit back at the move claiming it was “not the right time” and ministers appeared to agree with them.

Lord Porter recently told his cabinet the Breckland partnership did not “place us very well for conversations about reorganisation inside Lincolnshire”.

He added: “I do understand that the fire under that agenda has been somewhat smothered at the moment, but I think given the nation’s finances, it won’t be long before somebody blows them flames back again.

“We need to protect our people and our residents to make sure that we’re in the best position possible going forward.”