Richmond Train Station Cafe by Steve Morgan

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Hambleton and Richmondshire Working Together

Fleur Butler (|Richmondshire) and Neville Huxtable (Hambleton)

Hambleton and Richmondshire district councils have embarked on an ambitious shared services programme with projected savings of £1.5m.

Hambleton and Richmondshire’s shared service journey began in April 2009, when a common vision was agreed to share the Chief Executive, Strategic Management Team and services across both councils, whilst retaining sovereignty. A programme of shared services was defined and a shared Strategic Management Team (SMT) established.

The early programme of sharing was defined by a pragmatic and opportunistic approach to delivery, learning through experience and accelerating implementation, particularly where vacancies created the chance to re-think service delivery. Shared arrangements were quickly established for ICT, reprographics, legal, procurement and community safety. The level and pace of ambition was unmatched anywhere within Yorkshire and Humber.

By September 2009, it was acknowledged that to deliver the ambitions of both councils and to maximise the opportunities that sharing provided, the approach needed to be more clearly defined. It needed to move from the delivery of a collection of projects into a programme of change. Through the use of RIEP (Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership) funding, Castlerigg Consulting was commissioned to facilitate this and provide objective challenge and support drawn from previous experience of shared service delivery. The support model employed avoided buying ill focused ‘off the shelf’ thinking. Instead Castlerigg was an integrated part of the team, sharing their knowledge and expertise for an agreed time to reduce risks, create pragmatic tools to fast track delivery and maximize the internal skills base.Through this support, it was recognised that to strengthen delivery the two authorities needed to be clearer on expectations, improve the involvement of members and officers, make sure information was robust and involve support services in a relevant and timely way.

This ensured the best use of talent and gave:

  • A Clearly defined Programme of Change, identifying and communicating the ambition and what sharing would deliver
  • A clear programme up to December 2010 for the examination and development for shared service delivery of all 23 identified services
  • Measures for managing performance, improving communications and planned efficiencies
  • A simple, clearly defined shared service development process, involving members, staff and unions in delivery and implementation
  • Tailored, fit for purpose project management tools, including detailed guidance, templates, training and management projects available via a shared intranet site
  • An HR model and legal framework supporting and consolidating the decisions being made
  • A ’virtual’ support team  including finance, HR, ICT legal, procurement, customer services and communications to maximise internal support to managers and ensure consistency.

By August 2010 the programme of shared services continued to build on the momentum and the opportunities created by shared management arrangements and learning. Although most opportunities rest in deepening the collaboration between Hambleton and Richmondshire. The two local authorities are proactively engaged in broader collaborations across North Yorkshire, for example in the Audit Partnership, the building Control Partnership and the Waste Partnership. Work is underway to maximise the opportunities and economies of scale that broader sharing can provide in the future. 

As well as reviewing the progress of each shared service, a formal review will take place in February 2011.

Hambleton and Richmondshire IT dept

Good Practice

The success of the collaboration between Hambleton and Richmondshire is built from firm political foundations and a shared understanding about what the partnership means. Central to this understanding is the sovereignty and independence of political decision making for each council and recognition that this is not a merger or a takeover - it is a partnership of equals with a common aim to achieve the wide ranging benefits that sharing services provides.

The Hambleton and Richmondshire Partnership is characterised by the following:

  • Agreement that the partnership is necessary – both councils need to maximise the levels of savings possible in order to protect and deliver essential front line services
  • Respect and trust between different interests. Both councils recognise whilst there is commonality in ambition, there may be different levels of service delivery, resource allocation or political priorities
  • Clear leadership and commitment - political leadership and commitment provides the foundations for delivery, whilst  shared management provides the capacity and innovation to maximise the benefits of sharing
  • A shared vision - established and agreed at the outset
  • An evolving  relationship - time has been taken to build the partnership on firm foundations. Established in April 2009 the partnership has matured in scope and complexity as success has bred increasing confidence across the partnership
  • Compatible ways of working and flexibility - while many of the challenges have been similar, there is a recognition of difference and the authorities do not attempt to create a one size fits all approach to sharing
  • Good clear communication - the programme arrangements mean that members and officers are fully engaged in the programme of change. They evaluate satisfaction and concerns amongst stakeholders on an on-going basis.
  • Collaborative decision-making  - there is a recognition that within the partnership there are times when give and take is essential - that one council may on occasion need to invest more than the other in support of the programme to ultimately get to where you want both to be
  • Effective organisational management - a shared Chief Executive, SMT and management enable clear responsibilities, direction and flexibility to be at the heart of the success.

Clean Up Day at Colburn


There are a number of significant achievements from this shared services approach.

Achievements include:

  • A programme of 23 services being shared for delivery by December 2010
  • By August 2010, shared delivery of 48% of services achieved with another 43% being implemented and 9% under consideration
  • Current efficiencies of £553,000 and yearly projected savings of £1.5m
  • Members, officers and unions  engaged in service redesign and delivery
  • Increased capacity, resilience and flexibility
  • Shared talent pool
  • Opportunities for learning and development
  • Improved services and value for money for our communities
  • Programme frameworks, tools and processes supporting delivery
  • Open and honest communications

This successful collaboration has gone from strength to strength, building and delivering a sustainable programme of sharing. The philosophy and approach is built around making real changes in real time, with people acting now, not simply talking and producing plans. Hambleton and Richmondshire are innovative, rural district councils, seizing the opportunities that shared services provides, improving the value for money for local communities



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