Personality clash to blame for Yorkshire councils’ shared services split

By Graeme Burton
21 Jun 2012 View Comments
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His removal had been made without consulting Richmondshire. Local sources claim that Simpson was simply caught in the middle of a bigger battle between the leaders of the two councils.

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"The senior councillors at both local authorities just don't get on. They were sharing Simpson, but he was viewed, rightly or wrongly, by the Hambleton councillors as ‘in the pocket' of Richmondshire, and heavily influenced by Richmondshire's leaders," Computing was told by a journalist local to the area.

In other words, the shared services agreement between the two councils has been terminated as a result of a clash of personalities between the two councils' leaders. "However they dress it up, that's what it is," he added.

Officially, the cost to Hambleton council tax payers of decoupling services from the neighbouring district council has been estimated at £200,000, while the cost to the council tax payers of Richmondshire has been estimated at £100,000.

A statement from Hambleton District Council claimed that, "the transition will be managed within existing budgets" and that "the ICT service will be able to deal with any changes".

The two councils have put together a schedule to decouple their arrangement, starting at the beginning of July.

Community services, business support and electoral services departments will be formally split from 1 July, according to the Northern Echo. The planning department will follow in September and a review of the remaining services – including waste collection, revenue and benefits, and environmental health – will take place in April.

While the two councils claim that the split will cost very little, the reality is almost certain to be very different – the councils had claimed that it had saved them £2.6m over the past three years.

Hambleton is looking to outsourcing as the way forward, while Richmondshire is looking to alternative shared services arrangements and has already held talks with North Yorkshire County Council.

However, the bad blood between Blackies' independents in Richmondshire and the Conservative Party hierarchy in North Yorkshire runs deep.

Talks between Richmondshire District Council and the County Council had started well until the leader of the County Council, Councillor John Weighell, returned from holiday and put the kybosh on further discussions.

Richmondshire's combative leader, Councillor Blackie, had been deselected as a council candidate by the local Richmond Conservative Association in 2007 and subsequently expelled. However, Blackie defected to the independent group on Richmondshire District Council, which he now leads in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

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