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Suffolk councils pursue joint management including head of legal

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Two councils in West Suffolk are pursuing plans for a new joint management team that will include a single Head of Legal & Democratic Services.

Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council have already appointed a shared Chief Executive in Ian Gallin.

The authorities will now share two directors, who will replace the two strategic directors at Forest Heath and the two corporate directors at St Edmundsbury. The directors will not be responsible for managing individuals or discrete services, but instead work across all services.

The councils will also share heads of service, including the Head of Legal & Democratic Services post.

A report recommending the plans is being considered by councillors this week, with meetings on 1 August for St Edmundsbury and on 2 August for Forest Heath.

The report did not set out the savings and costs of the programme, but the councils said they believed it would make a “substantial contribution” to the £2.5m savings the authorities required through sharing services.

The new team is expected to be in place on 1 October 2012.

In a joint statement, Cllr John Griffiths, Leader of St Edmundsbury, and Cllr James Waters, Leader of Forest Heath Leader, said: "The days are long gone when councils can do everything on their own. We need the right senior management in place to build effective partnerships, support our ward councillors to encourage local action within their communities, and to respond quickly to the needs of our local residents and businesses.

“They will also be looking beyond our borders because we are ambitious for West Suffolk; we want to create jobs and build the skills needed for those jobs ensuring the future prosperity of the people we serve here. Our Joint Management Team will also need to share that ambition and vision."

Chief Executive Ian Gallin said: "The report I will be presenting to councillors stresses that there can be no boundaries between our councils when it comes to delivering services.

“We have to make significant savings year on year and we can only do that by making the absolute best use of every member of staff we have. That means we all need to be flexible about how we work, where and who with.”