TWO Oxfordshire councils that have worked jointly for the last six months said the arrangement has saved them £630,000.

Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council have shared a chief executive and other senior management team since October, partly brought about by a revamp to local government in Northamptonshire.

The authorities’ assistant chief executive Claire Taylor said the arrangement for joint working should continue and there are no strong reasons to abandon it.

Eventually, the work could mean the councils share a law and governance department, along with others in finance, HR, corporate services – including marketing and communities – and regulatory services.

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Ms Taylor’s report states: “After six months in operation the partnership has demonstrated that effective relationships between councillors from different authorities can be formed, that opportunities can be taken as they arrive to maximise benefits and that there is potential for shared service delivery.”

The county council stepped in to offer help Cherwell District Council after it had to abandon its link with South Northamptonshire Council. Northamptonshire’s seven district and borough councils, along with its county council, will be replaced by two unitary authorities.

The change was hastened as a result of Northamptonshire County Council’s terrible financial problems, which had led to a budget shortfall of about £70m last autumn.

As part of the work, Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council now share a chief executive, a monitoring officer, an assistant chief executive, an assistant director for regulatory services and community safety, an assistant director for social care, commissioning and housing and a strategic lead for HR.

The councils’ chief executive, Yvonne Rees, is paid £190,000 a year, with contributions coming from both the county council and Cherwell.

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She started work at Cherwell in March 2017 as its joint chief executive. At the time she was also South Northamptonshire Council’s joint chief executive.

The councils’ report continues: “Members have also identified additional ambitions and areas for joint working, including public estate and alignment around frontline services.”

Ms Taylor’s findings will go to the county council’s cabinet next Tuesday.

So far all of the councils’ joint working has been assessed by their Partnership Working Group, which has always met in private.

The councils said that is because of the ‘nature of discussions, which include HR matters.’

The work is in addition to the county council’s own £18m transformation plan, which it has said could save it tens of millions of pounds a year.