Council owned company venture deal close

West Devon Borough Council and South Hams District Council are close to transferring all services into a company which would have the ability in the future to trade its services.

Jointly owned, the company would run all of the councils current services, but, in the future, could also sell those services to other councils and organisations to generate a profit, helping both councils to achieve and maintain financial security.

The two authorities have shared most of their services and staff since 2007, bringing in almost £6 million in savings between them.

If the new plans go ahead, the council’s will operate with a smaller workforce, reducing staff by 24 per cent across both councils. The changes are expected to save £.8 million a year, helping to bridge the forecasted £4.7 million budget gap brought about in local government cuts.

Cllr Philip Sanders, leader of West Devon Borough Council, said: “Our councillors [have taken] a brave step towards setting up a Local Authority Controlled Company. This has not been an easy decision, because there are risks, but West Devon Borough Council has never shied away from big decisions and has always led local authority innovation. With South Hams, we were the first council in the the country to share a chief executive, now we will be the first to take full control of our future."

Cllr John Tucker, leader of South Hams District Council, added: "The new working model puts us at the forefront of modern council service delivery and I'm pleased that we can now move on with our plans. Our evidence suggests that more and more people want to do business with us online, at a time of their choosing. Our proposals will do just that, as well as offer our customers the choice of doing things digitally or by more conventional methods, such as the phone."

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