Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council consider joint working proposals to improve services
Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council are considering a proposal for shared service arrangements under a joint chief executive, while retaining separate councillor bodies, budgets and decision-making processes. The principle of joint working was agreed by the county council’s Cabinet and Cherwell District Council on Monday 4 June.
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“We are keen to work with Cherwell to ensure its residents continue to receive good services. The county council also believes a joint arrangement would help to secure investment in the infrastructure needed to support increases in jobs and homes.
“The problems in Northamptonshire have created this unique opportunity for a county-district shared service arrangement. I am confident that if we can reach an agreement that would be good for Cherwell and good for the rest of Oxfordshire.
The local government review in Northamptonshire has required the Leader and the administration of Cherwell District Council to reflect upon its future and to consider what is best for its residents. As a result, they are minded to formally end their successful partnership with South Northamptonshire, and are looking at future options that will best suit the interests of its residents.
Bodicote House - Cherwell District Council's HQ
Councillor Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, said:
“This is a great opportunity to explore closer joint working with Oxfordshire County Council, putting our residents at the heart of service delivery. In Cherwell we already have a very successful track record of partnership working and welcome the possibility of a strong and innovative relationship with colleagues at the County.
"In line with our ethos we will consider all partnerships that fit with our culture. In short, we do not and will not, operate a ‘one size fits all policy’ – but take individual decisions based on customer need and evidence."
Joint working arrangements were formally agreed under what is known as a Section 113 agreement by the Cabinet of Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council on 4 June.
The exact arrangements for sharing services and joining up functions will need to be worked out in detail and then agreed separately by each council. The shared service arrangements would be implemented incrementally so that day-to-day services are not affected and new ways of working identified.
It is a statutory requirement that the Chief Executive, as head of paid service, is appointed by the full councils of each council and formal appointment processes will be followed. Peter Clark, chief executive of Oxfordshire County Council, has said he would step down if and when the joint working arrangement was agreed.
The proposed partnership is not connected to unitary reorganisation proposals, and would offer an innovative opportunity to make two tier local government more effective.
You can read the Cabinet paper on the joint working proposal here.