Worthing Borough Council Leader Dan Humphreys, left, with Adur District Council Leader Neil Parkin
A GROUNDBREAKING plan to combine council services has saved taxpayers £17 million in ten years, according to new figures.
Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the first-of-its-kind merger between Adur District and Worthing Borough councils and finance chiefs trumpeted the success of a scheme which some thought was “mad” when it was introduced in 2007.
Experts now believe ongoing savings brought by the merger exceed £3 million a year, after years of refinements to the merger have led to more sharing of resources and greater savings.
Adur and Worthing were the first councils in the country to merge service functions such as refuse collections, officer responsibility, IT systems, benefits, planning policy and parks.
The pioneering move has helped the councils protect frontline services from the effects of decreases in the central Government grant.
For instance Adur and Worthing councils are one of the few local authorities still committed to weekly refuse collections,
Many other council across the UK have since adopted Adur and Worthing’s blueprint.
While back office functions have been merged, the councils themselves have remained completely independent with elected councillors for both authorities deciding their own priorities for their residents.
Leader of Adur District Council Neil Parkin said:” I think it is worth noting this milestone anniversary. It was a bold move and people thought we were mad. We have saved taxpayers money while maintaining frontline services.
“And of course we remain separate from Worthing but nevertheless we work well together on big projects that benefit residents of both places.”
Leader of Worthing Borough Council Dan Humphries said:” “£17 million is a hefty saving and has allowed us to focus on what is really important for the people of this borough.
“We have never lost our individual identity but working together has brought great benefits to both communities.”
Early savings in senior management costs saved around £400,000 and removing duplication of services continues to save money.
Bringing together refuse services under the banner Adur and Worthing Councils Services (AWCS) was the first large-scale project undertaken with the streamlining of operations and routes making significant savings
In addition the councils reduced the number of their own office buildings from three to two. The former Adur Civic Centre is now the subject of a development scheme.
Source: The Argus