Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils, along with Cheltenham Borough Council, agreed in June 2014 to form a four council partnership to make substantial savings whilst continuing to deliver services locally.
Originally known as the 2020 Vision Partnership, the Publica Group partnership aims to collectively save £5.6m per year by 2020 – going on to save the councils a cumulative £41 million over 10 years.
The partnership is on its way to achieving its financial targets and, to meet the next stage, the councils have agreed to adopt a local authority owned company approach to run their services. Publica Group will provide all the services currently provided directly by Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils plus ICT, HR and finance for Cheltenham Borough Council.
This will enable the councils to make the savings required while continuing to provide services locally.
Publica Group will become operational in autumn 2017.
Residents and customers will still be dealing with the councils as they always have and each council will still be responsible for services to its local communities.
Each council will still have its own elected councillors and they will continue to make decisions taking account of the needs of their local community. There will also be staff working in each location, as at present.
What this means on the ground
The partner councils have been sharing human resources, finance and payroll services since 2012 in what is known as GO (Gloucestershire & Oxfordshire) Shared Service and, building on this foundation, in April 2016 agreed to extend the shared services to include the following services:
- information technology
- public protection
- building control
- customer services
- revenues and benefits
(Not all councils were necessarily involved in each of these as some have different arrangements.)
The partners set up a joint committee in early 2016 to oversee the next stage of the shared services programme, and are now working towards establishing the local authority owned companies to run the services from autumn 2017. The companies will re-design services following establishment and will be looking to expand trading opportunities to increase income.
2020 partnership joint committee meeting agendas and minutes
The joint committee consists of two councillors from each council who are collectively responsible for delivery of the approved 2020 business plan and overseeing the finances.