Published on 28th May 2014

An innovative four-council partnership is announcing its vision for transforming the way its services run in order to deliver more efficiency savings and protect public services.

Leaders at Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils and Cheltenham Borough Council have set out their ‘2020 Vision for Joint Working’ for consideration by each Council’s Cabinet. They are proposing:

“Four Independent Councils determining their own policies, priorities and decisions supported by a small number of expert advisors who commission and monitor services, either from the private and voluntary sectors or from local authority-owned service delivery companies”

If approved, the four authorities would establish a jointly-owned local authority company to provide the services required by each individual council.

The move is expected to save in excess of £55m over 10 years, and it comes in response to continued financial pressures that local authorities face.

The proposition enables the councils to protect valued frontline services, whilst they will each remain as independent authorities with their own elected councillors representing local people.

Cllr Lynden Stowe, Leader of Cotswold District Council, said:

“The proposition set out in this report represents perhaps the most radical joint working approach in local government today. It is a proper, considered response to a challenge not only of how to best use a smaller and reducing public subsidy but also how to make best use of technology, how to encourage and use a competitive market, and how to make smart use of managerial and other expertise.

“However, our proposals should also be seen as a natural and logical progression along an innovative transformational agenda which the councils have been delivering over recent years. We should take great encouragement from what has already been achieved.”

Cllr Patrick Molyneux, Leader of Forest of Dean District Council, added:

“In simple terms amalgamating the support services of four councils would see a reduction in operating costs and an increase in efficiencies. By reducing the administration and running costs of the councils we can spend a bigger proportion of our budget on delivering the frontline services our communities need, while keeping the democratic decision making of local councillors intact. Local services, local democracy, lower costs … with the additional benefit of greater resilience.”

Cllr Barry Norton, Leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, commented:

“The councils already have a track record of developing innovative arrangements irrespective of traditional district, county or regional boundaries. This approach builds on that firm foundation and provides a very strong basis to support a new model for local government. It will provide efficient collective shared officer support arrangements, able to provide distinct and bespoke advice to a cluster of independent councils focused around existing district council localities without the need to consider political mergers. This model is scalable both in terms of numbers of partners but also in the scope of services.”

Cllr Steve Jordan Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council concluded:

“The development of our current shared services has enabled a strong degree of trust and confidence between the four partners at a member level.  It seems both timely and logical to build on these strong foundations and plan for further joint working arrangements with existing partners. Importantly, these arrangements would ensure councils retain independent decision making that reflects local needs.”


The report, titled ‘A 2020 Vision for Joint Working’ will be considered at the following Cabinet meetings:
  • Cotswold District Council 5 June 2014
  • Cheltenham Borough Council 24 June 2014
  • Forest of Dean District Council 12 June 2014
  • West Oxfordshire District Council 18 June 2014
Cotswold, Forest of Dean and West Oxfordshire District Councils and Cheltenham Borough Council already share a number of 'back office' functions, including Finance, Human Resources and Payroll.

The Partnership was awarded a £500,000 Transformation Grant by central government in April to look to strengthen the shared working arrangement. This will assist work on the new proposed arrangements.

For further information, please contact the following press officers:

Cotswold DC - Bob McNally  t: 01285 623120 e: [email protected]

Cheltenham BC - Lisa Davies  t: 01242 775037 e: [email protected]

Forest of Dean DC - Michala Lee  t: 01594 812622 e: [email protected]

West Oxfordshire DC- Carys Davies  t: 01993 861615 e: [email protected]