Harborough and Melton strategic partnership business case revealed

It will be voted on by both authorities later this month

A business case looking into a strategic partnership between Harborough and Melton councils has been completed.

Harborough District Council and Melton Borough Council’s cabinets each voted for a case to be prepared investigating the ‘desirability, viability and feasibility’ of a partnership.

The document was created by Mutual Ventures Ltd, which was jointly appointed by the two authorities. It is set to be voted on by Harborough District Council on December 19 and would see £700,000 in savings across the district over the next three years.

The document reads: “This business case is designed to appraise whether the creation of a formalised strategic partnership would provide an appropriate platform that enables both councils to improve outcomes for their communities and businesses by increasing service quality, resilience and efficiency, as well as increasing the collective influence of both councils.”

The document says working together could increase the influence and impact of both councils. It could also address shared challenges such as ageing population, areas of deprivation, inequality and isolation, lack of digital and transport connectivity in rural areas.

There could also be some shared services, resources and expertise which could result in savings, service resilience and staff retention.

If given the green light by both authorities this month the first phase of changes would take place between January to April 2023. It would see a review into senior leadership roles, shared leadership across waste services and environmental health and assessments into parking strategies.

The second phase would take place between May and December and investigate shared leadership across planning departments, expertise shared on housing and homelessness and the potential for joint development of property and assets.

A partnership would see the current chief executive officer of Melton Borough Council take on the role of shared chief executive officer and head of paid services for both authorities.

There would be two shared deputy chief executive officers employed by each council, with the Melton deputy chief executive taking responsibility for communities and housing and Harborough’s deputy chief executive assuming responsibility for corporate and transformation.

Cabinet members from each council would form a strategy board to consider the direction of the partnership, while a stakeholder group made up of council leaders and deputies would meet with the shared CEO to provide direction.

The document reads: “Collaboration is commonplace across local government and within Leicestershire there is a strong track record of joint working by district councils and their partners. Since 2020 both councils have increased their focus on joint working and collaboration, recognising they have a number of shared challenges including the pandemic response, cost of living crisis, and Homes for Ukraine.

“These examples of joint strategic planning have demonstrated the value and potential of a strategic partnership approach to place leadership and the potential benefits of a collective voice representing communities and businesses.

“These discussions have highlighted the common challenges faced by both councils, their communities and local businesses. It has also become clear both councils have areas of specialism that would benefit the other council.”