Cherwell District Council – ‘First steps taken on the pathway to joint working for Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Council’

Cherwell District Council have released the following news – 

Plans for a new partnership between Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County Councils have taken a step forward after councillors at both authorities agreed, in principle, to develop joint working arrangements.

Yesterday (Monday) members of Cherwell’s Executive committee and Cabinet members from Oxfordshire separately approved recommendations to pave the way for joint working between the two authorities.

The decisions follow the announcement that Cherwell was minded to end its current joint working with South Northamptonshire Council following proposals by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government regarding the structure of local government in Northamptonshire.

Cllr Barry Wood, leader of Cherwell District Council, said: “We know from our work with South Northamptonshire Council over the past seven years that closer working between authorities benefits residents and encourages the sharing of best practice. Unfortunately, with the changes likely in Northamptonshire, we can no longer continue the partnership with South Northamptonshire Council, so need to explore other options. We will consider all partnerships that fit with our culture. We do not operate a ‘one size fits all’ policy, but take individual decisions based on customer need and experience.

“Whilst we are sad to be parting from South Northamptonshire, we are excited about the opportunities that will be created through joint working with Oxfordshire County Council. These proposals will enable each council to retain its own identity and enable us to align operations across both authorities to ensure joined-up service delivery for everyone in Cherwell.”

At yesterday’s meetings, councillors at each authority agreed to the principle of implementing joint working arrangements and the establishment of a member-led partnership working group which would include representatives from each council. The proposals also include establishing a joint chief executive for Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County Councils.

The proposed partnership is not connected to unitary reorganisation proposals, and would instead offer an innovative opportunity to make two-tier local government more effective.

Following yesterday’s decisions, the proposals will now be discussed at the full council meetings of Cherwell District and Oxfordshire County Councils, which take place in July. Both Cherwell District Council and Oxfordshire County Councils full council meetings will formally consider the decision to appoint a joint chief executive. If agreed by both authorities, work would then begin to formally start the process of implementing joint working.