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The merger of two Lincolnshire Councils?

OK, so maybe its not a full merger of the two as we know it, but a lot of service functions in two councils are being given over to be undertaken by a “merged company”. Make sense? ..  No? ….

I’ve just found out  that Councillors at East Lindsey and South Holland gave the green light to the creation of the merged service company which will, they claim, save ratepayers in both districts £30.7 million pounds over the next 10 years. So, we are talking of savings on average of £3.7 million each year. Not a bad sum, but how much is it going to cost to create this merged service company? Or does the company already exist?

The agreement was given at both East Lindsey’s and South Holland’s Council meetings held on 28th July 2010.

The  services to be merged are:

  • Customer Services
  • Revenues and Benefits
  • ICT
  • Human Resources
  • Finance

These functions will be transferred to the Company on 1st August and then be transformed through new ICT investment and more streamline processes. Forgive me for being sceptical, but aren’t these functions most of what the Councils do anyway?? The whole bandwagon is just going to get bigger and more cumbersome, innit?

The news bulletin goes on to say “the ground-breaking move will ensure quality services are delivered to the public at a reduced cost – a necessity in today’s cash-strapped public services – by a private limited company owned by the two councils.”

When the term “quality” starts being bandied about, you know there’s something amiss. I’m yet to get quality service from South Holland as a normal service, and have only had it when I’ve made a formal complaint – about Customer Service and  Revenues & Benefits. East Lindsey do rate much better in my books, but could certainly improve.

Furthermore, Cllr Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council said: “This is great news for residents because it means we can provide services more efficiently, saving people money and keeping services performing well.” I can well believe it will be a big improvement.

Cllr Doreen Stephenson, Leader of East Lindsey District Council said: “This is a move that will deliver the savings to residents and keep service standards high over the next 10 years.” As long as South Holland don’t run it, then I might agree with that statement.

I’m curious as to how much it will cost to set this all up, and if there will be any net savings in the long run. Watch and see.

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