East Dunbartonshire Council pulls out of sharing services plan

Signing of legal agreement at Allander Leisure Centre. From left to right: Cllr Amanda Stewart, Gerry Cornes (Chief Executive, East Dunbartonshire Council), Rhonda Geekie (Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council), 31st March 2011.
Signing of legal agreement at Allander Leisure Centre. From left to right: Cllr Amanda Stewart, Gerry Cornes (Chief Executive, East Dunbartonshire Council), Rhonda Geekie (Leader of East Dunbartonshire Council), 31st March 2011.

EAST Dunbartonshire Council has rejected a proposal to share services with other councils in the west of Scotland.

The proposal for shared support services such as human resources and IT and waste management came from the Clyde Valley Review which was carried out two years ago to look at ways of cutting costs.

It would have seen up to seven councils in the former Strathclyde region setting up an agency employing about 3,500 staff.

But three councils, East and West Dunbartonshire and Glasgow, have now pulled out.

East Dunbartonshire Council leader Rhondda Geekie, said: “In light of current financial uncertainty and the need to clarify the risks involved we are not in a position to recommend proceeding with the options.

“In order to continue with this we would need to have certainty around the financial model, confidence in the retention of jobs within our own local economy and clarification on the risks and the potential for local control of services to our customers.”

The council is going to continue to explore alternative approaches to service delivery, including shared service opportunities with neighbouring councils, in order to deliver the efficiencies and the savings levels initially identified through the Clyde Valley models.

Councillor Geekie added: “Although the circumstances are not right for us to continue these particular proposals at this time, it is still imperative that we look at how else we can deliver the savings required across the service areas that were being taken forward through the Clyde Valley Shared Support Services agenda.

“With this in mind, we have tasked officers with looking at a range of alternative efficiency models and savings opportunities, including other shared service possibilities with our partners and/or neighbouring authorities.”

Unison trade union had already raised concerns about the scheme. Officials said they were not opposed to shared services but they believed these particular proposals were wrong.

East Dunbartonshire Council is going to send a customer survey about services in the area to 10,000 households in the area. The findings from this will be used in the council’s budget-setting process for 2012/13.

Separate proposals for councils in the area to co-operate on waste management are due soon.