Council continues to look at improving its services

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IT was disappointing to read the criticism (News Guardian, October 27) from Northumberland County Council Labour group leader, Coun Grant Davey, against the steps North Tyneside Council is pursuing in the interest of our council tax payers and employees.

I would appreciate the opportunity to correct some of the misinformation included and provide clarity regarding the proposals from North Tyneside Council.

As Coun Davey should be aware, North Tyneside Council did explore the potential to forge partnerships with Northumberland for sharing services and achieving efficiency across four areas – ICT, revenues and benefit, fostering and audit, but not adoption, as suggested.

We do appreciate the support we have had from Northumberland over the last two years in exploring those options.

As a result of that work, we have been able to develop some partnership working between the authorities on fostering and audit which will help us improve those services and achieve some savings.

Unfortunately, at a joint meeting of the two authorities’ chief executives in July, it was agreed that formal joint services over wider areas were not viable as they were unable to achieve the level of savings that either authority needed within the timescales required.

North Tyneside Council continues to look at how it can deliver services in a different way in the future.

That process is focused on helping the council to deliver essential services to the public, achieve more than £40m of efficiencies, and as far as possible, protect and grow jobs by providing different opportunities for new and sustainable investment.

This is nothing new in the north east. Just look at the success of the partnership South Tyneside Council has with BT, and the partnership Newcastle City Council has with Carrillion (previously Eaga).

And Coun Davey’s Labour colleagues in North Tyneside have been fully involved in helping us explore other examples of best practice across the country – in councils of all political colours – to see which successful models could be implemented for the benefit of our borough.

The council has this week formally advertised its intention to explore different service delivery models and is inviting interest from different organisations to share their ideas with us at partner days next month.

This will not just include private sector organisations but will also be open to interest from others, including social enterprises, public sector partnerships as well as the community and voluntary sector.

In the current economic climate, North Tyneside Council would be letting down its residents and the wider borough if it did not explore ways of doing things differently.

LINDA ARKLEY

Mayor of North Tyneside