West Dunbartonshire Council has rejected a detailed shared services proposal in favour of localised, cordoned-off services, in a move countering the plans of other councils across the country to merge key back office functions.
The council has rejected claims that taxpayer cash and service quality would be well protected by the shared services scheme, called the Clyde Valley Partnership, which aimed to save £30 million in total per year. As the second council to withdraw from the partnership of eight, questions are being raised over the future of the scheme.
In recent years Socitm, the association of local council IT managers, has argued strongly that local councils need to improve their usage of shared services in order to save money on IT and processing, as they face tough budget cuts. While some councils have taken up the mantle, others councils have questioned the benefits on offer.
Councillors at West Dunbartonshire last week unanimously voted against being part of the Clyde Valley Partnership, in which eight authorities in the west of Scotland would have shared IT, human resources and processing functions. The council is the second to withdraw from the proposal, following South Lanarkshire's exit, leaving six still involved.
Ronnie McColl, leader at West Dunbartonshire, said the councillors' priority "is always to do what is right for West Dunbartonshire, and regrettably these proposals were not in the best interests of this Council or the local area".
McColl said there was "far more potential in seeking local, bespoke partnership solutions for service delivery that can protect the quality of service, while providing better value for money for the tax payers of West Dunbartonshire".
The councils still involved are East Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, Glasgow and North Lanarkshire. Observers have already noted that running the partnership with fewer participating councils is likely to dent the potential for savings.