Authorities join forces to help save millions

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POLICE, the fire service and Hampshire County Council have joined forces to share support services in a bid to save £4m a year.

The partnership – called H3 – is the first of its kind in England between three authorities.

The council, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary will share a business centre, finance and HR, occupational health and wellbeing, procurement processes and print services.

H3 will be fully operational by November. There were no redundancies as part of the interim joint working arrangements.

Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes said: ‘With continued pressures on public finances, we have to work together to find new ways of operating and this programme aims to deliver the best value services, in a modern, efficient and effective way. By sharing resources, the organisations can increase their flexibility and capacity and better protect front-line services – an approach I support.’

Council leader Cllr Roy Perry said that due to a 40 per cent cut in government funding and ongoing demand for services the council was transforming, the way it works to ‘deliver more with less, while locking in quality and greater value for money.’

Cllr Perry added: ‘H3 will strengthen each of our organisations so that they can better adapt and respond to changing priorities and government policy.’

Royston Smith, chairman of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, also welcomed the milestone in the partnership.

However, the move has attracted some criticism, with the Police Federation warning about losing their identities by being swallowed up by the county council.

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, said: ‘With such deep cuts to the budget, it was clear there needed to be some fundamental changes and part of that was to recognise that some back office roles could be shared.

‘It is a better alternative than outsourcing to a power-hungry corporate company. However it is still very early days and my fear is that the county council, because it is so large, could swamp the police and fire services and we could lose our identities.’

Despite no redundancies, all three authorities need to make cutbacks by 2015 — the council must save £90m as well as reduce its workforce by the equivalent of 200 full-time posts, the police needs to save £80m by shedding 500 jobs and the fire service must save £6.1m by losing 30 posts.