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Cabinet at council backs legal team joining shared service subject to business case

The Cabinet at Gloucester City Council has backed a proposal that its legal team join the One Legal shared service.

One Legal was formed in 2009 as a shared legal service between Tewkesbury  and Cheltenham Borough Councils. Tewkesbury acts as host authority for ‘pay and rations’ purposes.

At a meeting last week Gloucester’s Cabinet approved the move, subject to a satisfactory business case being prepared.

Its legal services staff would transfer to Tewkesbury on 31 January or such other date as is agreed.

A copy of the report prepared for Gloucester’s Cabinet can be viewed here.

It said that One Legal had a “successful track record of delivering savings whilst also improving service delivery to its client councils”.

The service had been invited to undertake work for a broad spectrum of local authority and other public bodies, which had resulted in surpluses being delivered to the partner councils.

The report to Cabinet revealed that a review of the legal service at Gloucester had been on the agenda for some time and posts had not been filled when they became vacant pending the outcome of the review.

“This has meant that the service has become less resilient and has had to rely on a steady succession of locums to provide the services required of the team,” it said.

The report added that Gloucester’s legal service needed to deliver £50,000 worth of savings and this could “best be achieved through entering into a partnership agreement”.

The proposal is for the arrangement to continue for a term of 10 years but with an option to review in November 2019. This is when the current arrangements between Cheltenham and Tewkesbury are scheduled for review.

Paul James, Leader of Gloucester City Council, told the Gloucester Citizen: “The drive within local councils is to share services to achieve savings during a time when we have reduced resources.

“We have done that in a number of areas of the council already. It is clear on the council plan that there is more of that to come in terms of back office services.

“It is very important we have a full, strong, business case to support that decision but I am happy that we move in this direction.”