South Norfolk Council and Broadland District Council are asking their members to consider granting permission for officers to investigate the potential of creating closer collaborative working arrangements between the two councils while at the same time maintaining individual council sovereignty.
Under the proposals being presented in papers to councillors at separate council meetings in September, details will be put forward to discuss the case for exploring options of how the two authorities could work more closely together through a shared officer team.
The feasibility study would look at potential opportunities to drive economic and housing growth, enhance quality of life and improve service delivery to residents of Broadland and South Norfolk and at the same time would look to build capacity and resilience for both organisations and potentially deliver savings.
These are early days in the process to investigate options and opportunities and it is expected to take approximately 4-6 months to complete this initial work. After this time, the findings would be shared with councillors, staff and partners.
The background to this proposal stems in part from the recent Devolution negotiations, where both councils clearly demonstrated their appetite and support for delivering growth and services more effectively together locally. This feasibility study will also highlight other opportunities to progress both authorities common ambition of improving services to residents and businesses.
In a joint statement, Cllr John Fuller, Leader of South Norfolk Council and Cllr Andrew Proctor, Leader of Broadland District Council expressed their support for such a case to be explored:
Broadland District Council and South Norfolk Council have similar geographies, demographics and economies and this potential collaboration could be a positive foundation for both councils to drive growth in the region and deliver public sector service transformation.
We already have a strong history of working together, in terms of delivering growth and prosperity for the region, as well as services that make a difference to the lives of our residents.
Both councils are realistic and appreciate that due to reduced Government funding, steps must be taken by local authorities to develop innovative ways to provide efficient services, build resilience, generate savings and develop new income streams.
We believe this potential collaboration could be a further step on that journey as our shared culture and ethos of driving commercialisation, an entrepreneurial style in the way services are delivered and a commitment to providing quality services at the right price show that we are already approaching transformation in a similar way.
The next steps in the process are for both full councils to consider the proposal before any feasibility study can begin. South Norfolk Council will meet on Monday 18 September and Broadland District Council on Thursday 21st September.