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Daily Record
Daily Record
Lennox Herald & Fraser Clarke

Partnership between West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde council 'unsustainable'

A partnership between two councils which saw them share responsibilities on road, waste and fleet services is to be scrapped after a review found the scheme was “unsustainable”.

The shared services scheme was developed in 2017 between the West Dunbartonshire Council and Inverclyde Council.

At that time the two local authorities, as well as East Dunbartonshire Council, had developed a model to share roads and transportation services before the remit was expanded to include waste, fleet and grounds services.

In January 2022, East Dunbartonshire formally withdrew from the project before an independent evaluation of the shared services was commissioned in October 2022 to consider the future of the shared service model.

Despite highlighting a number of positives including sharing ideas, good communication and modest cost savings, there were a number of negatives which deemed the current model to be unsustainable.

This included potential loss of benefits, lack of consistent payroll, HR and legal systems and challenging geographical locations.

Peter Hessett, chief executive of West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “In summary it was felt that the shared services arrangement did not achieve what was hoped for when it was set up by the two authorities.

“With new administration in both areas it now was a good time to review the arrangements and an independent report was commissioned.

“The review noted that the current model was unsustainable and we then had to consider another way forward, which officers did, and we had discussions with the leaders of both councils.

“It was felt that, at least from a West Dunbartonshire point of view, further integration would require further investment to an integrated service with no guarantees.”

Peter Hessett, WDC's chief executive. (Lennox Herald)

Council officers recommended that it would be best to dissolve the roads, waste, fleet, and grounds areas of the operation whilst seeking a further report in respect of the internal audit function.

Staff have already been taken into consideration with the Head of the Shared Service concluding their employment with Inverclyde Council and becoming a West Dunbartonshire employee at chief officer level.

The shared Grounds Service Manager will revert to their substantive post within West Dunbartonshire Council given this was an interim arrangement.

All affected employees have indicated a willingness to accept the alternative offers.

Jim Bollan of the Community Party was a vocal critic of the project. (Lennox Herald)

The Community Party's Jim Bollan, a fierce critic of the project, said: "It's not surprising that the roads, waste, fleet and grounds service, shared services programme are being dissolved. The Community Party were the only party to vote against this failed project in 2018 when it was set up.

"We warned at the time that it would not work. Savings have been modest and the oversight of the project that poor, that the actual figure is not known.

"The Trade Unions were also rightly opposed to it as it would have eventually seen job losses in these services.

"There was a lack of any known or formal report or strategy or performance management framework within the scheme.

"This is another failed project by the improvement service at trying to centralise public services to cut public sector jobs."

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