Havant and East Hampshire councils divorce as they end partnership deal

Councils in Havant and East Hampshire have ended a 12-year partnership - despite announcing a single workforce merger in 2020.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 2:23 pm
The Plaza in Havant Picture: Havant Borough Council

Havant Borough Council (HBC) and East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) have decided to put an end to a working partnership first created in 2009.

This comes after both councils proposed sharing a single ‘flexible’ workforce two years ago.

In a statement from September 2020, HBC said: ‘The direct costs and loss of income resulting from coronavirus, the resulting economic downturn and the uncertainty around Brexit have added to the challenges of running local authorities.’

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The so-called ‘Shaping Our Futures Transformation Programme’ was kickstarted to provide ‘financial sustainability' to the local authorities.

Now, both councils will be separately staffed to focus on their own priorities and deliver outcomes more quickly.

Cllr Richard Millard, leader of East Hampshire District Council, said: ‘We have worked as close partners because we have had a number of shared interests over the years - but now is the time to focus on our specific areas and really target our energy into delivering outcomes which benefit our specific communities.

‘The management team and staff across both organisations have done an absolutely fantastic job and I look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver our priorities.’

Cllr Alex Rennie, leader of Havant Borough Council, said: ‘We have had a really successful partnership but this is the right moment to move in our own directions.

‘I would like to thank all the staff who have pulled out all the stops to deliver our shared priorities.

‘I envisage that we will continue to work closely where there are tangible benefits for our communities.’

The split comes amid fears of the government proposing a mass reorganisation of councils in England.

Reports last year describe proposals of a new devolution framework that strips back layers of government in favour of a single-tier system.

These proposals could put England’s district and county councils at risk of a merger or being scrapped.