District council leaders from Hambleton and Richmondshire have met Local Government Minister Bob Neill to discuss the impact of the reduction in Government grant and how the councils are responding through their shared service initiative.
With all services agreed for sharing where possible, the partnership between the two councils is now entering its third year and should be realising joint savings around the £1.8m mark by the end of the year.
“We did not expect the Minister to open his cheque book but we came away feeling he understood our situation better and the impact of cuts on an authority like mine which already has one of the lowest council taxes in the country,” said Coun Neville Huxtable, Leader of Hambleton Council.
Coun John Blackie, Leader of Richmondshire Council, added: “We were also able to emphasise the challenges of delivery to rural communities and that our shared service initiative was a beacon approach to what otherwise would be far deeper cuts to some of the most remote and vulnerable communities.”
Joint Chief Executive Peter Simpson summarised the visit.
“It was good that the minister recognised the work we are doing to minimise the need for cuts. This is as well as searching even deeper for efficiencies through our shared service programme.”
Minister Bob Neil agreed to respond to the councils’ representations and confirmed his support for the shared service initiative.
“Councils like Hambleton and Richmondshire should be praised for the positive approach they have taken to sharing services and reducing costs,” he said. “It has the full support of Government.”