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Councillors give the go ahead for Legal merger

Councillors from Ashfield District Council and Mansfield District Council have agreed to combine their Legal departments to share skills and expertise.

The shared Legal department for both councils would be based at Ashfield District Council in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

The merger of the two teams, which was agreed at both Council's Cabinet meetings, aims to improve efficiency through combining specialist skills and experience.

It would also provide a service that is flexible and able to respond to the changing demands of clients, and is consistent in the advice it provides.

It could also create possible savings of around £47,000 between the two authorities through reduced staffing costs, membership fees, external legal advice, reference books and periodicals.

The new shared service is due to be implemented from the end of September / October 2012, subject to the transfer of affected employees from Mansfield District Council to Ashfield District Council.

Cllr. Chris Baron, Portfolio Holder for Customer and Corporate Services said: "Although cost savings are obviously a key factor, they are not the driving force behind this proposal. The main reasons are for increased resilience, increased skill sharing and increased expertise. We need to develop more efficient and innovative ways to deliver council services and I believe this is one of those approaches."

Cllr Andrew Tristram, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Issues at Mansfield District Council, said: "I welcome the development of a shared legal service with Ashfield District Council. Our legal teams have a history of working collaboratively and this agreement will allow the service to become more efficient by combining the skills and expertise of the staff to deliver a robust and resilient service to both Districts."

The foundations for a Legal shared service are already in place with the two Councils already working together closely.

Since discussions began in 2009, both Councils have been exploring ways of sharing their services to improve the service to people who live and work within both Districts and to help cut costs.

A Shared Service Programme Board, made up of senior managers from each Council, was set up to oversee the shared service programme of work and identify potential shared services.

Visioning and viability work was undertaken during 2010-2011 and formal consultation began with the two teams in March 2012.

The two Councils already share a Regeneration service, which was formed in May 2012. It is based at Mansfield Civic Centre.

Published 14 August 2012

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