At full Council meetings of both Guildford and Waverley in July last year, both councils had agreed to greater partnership working including the creation of a Joint Chief Executive and a single management team as a first step towards recommending business cases for further collaboration, on a service-by-service basis.
In a Vision Statement drawn up by the Executives of both councils and presented to those meetings, collaboration was seen as being driven by more than the serious financial challenges that face all councils. There was an ambition to “protect, improve, and expand discretionary services, and explore new services”. The Executives wished to enhance both councils’ ambitions for carbon neutrality, “use the best of both councils” and “protect/create local jobs”. Their stated focus was on “better outcomes for residents and communities” that might arise from collaboration, potentially “go[ing] beyond shared management and shared services and be[ing] strategic in intent … to secure a longer-term sustainable future”. Specific savings targets were then included in both councils’ Budgets and Medium-Term Financial Plans.
The councils agreed to establish a Joint Appointments Committee to conduct the recruitment and selection process in respect of the proposed Joint Chief Executive and the single management team. In November 2021, both councils formally appointed Tom Horwood as the Joint Chief Executive and he commenced in this role in December.
It was agreed that an important early step in the partnership would be for both councils to approve Heads of Terms of an Inter-Authority Agreement (IAA), which would set out the formal governance arrangements for joint working, including cost and risk-sharing, dispute resolution and exit clauses.
A joint working group of six councillors (three from each council) was established in January 2022, which had met regularly to discuss the themes for inclusion in the Heads of Terms, together with a Risk Assessment in relation to key aspects of the collaboration.
The joint working group had completed its work and officers had drafted the Heads of Terms for approval by both Councils in April, which were appended to the report now before the Council for approval.
A copy of the collaboration Risk Assessment recommended by the joint working group was also attached to the report.
One of the discussion themes considered by the joint working group was to examine possible models of governance for managing the collaboration in the future. The joint working group had recommended that the existing Joint Appointments Committee should be retained with another joint committee being established to consider other governance related issues including the review of both the IAA and the Risk Assessment, recognising that, as the collaboration progressed, a greater degree of formal joint governance arrangements might be required. The joint working group had recommended, for adoption by both councils, the creation of a new Joint Governance Committee and draft terms of reference, which were attached to the report.
Following approval of the Heads of Terms by both councils, the Joint Chief Executive would commence the formal process for the appointment of the Joint Management Team.
Upon the motion of the Leader of the Council, Councillor Joss Bigmore, seconded byCouncillor George Potter, the Council
(1) That the draft Heads of Terms of the Inter-Authority Agreement setting out the formal governance arrangements for joint working between Guildford and Waverley, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Council, be approved.
(2) That the Monitoring Officer be authorised to enter into the final Inter-Authority Agreement on behalf of Guildford Borough Council.
(3) That the collaboration Risk Assessment, as set out in Appendix 2 to the report, be approved.
(4) That the establishment of a Joint Governance Committee and its proposed composition and terms of reference, as set out in Appendix 3 to the report, be approved.
(5) That the Joint Governance Committee be authorised to approve its standing orders at its first meeting.
(6) That, subject to approval of paragraph (4) above, Guildford’s numerical allocation of seats to the political groups on the proposed Joint Governance Committee shall be as follows:
· Residents for Guildford and Villages: two seats
· Guildford Liberal Democrats: two seats
· Conservatives: one seat
· Guildford Greenbelt Group: one seat
(7) That the nominations for membership and substitute membership of the Joint Governance Committee for the 2022-23 municipal year, be considered at the Selection Council meeting on 16 May 2022.
(8) That the Monitoring Officer be authorised to amend the constitution to incorporate the establishment of the Joint Governance Committee, and its terms of reference; and, subject to paragraph (5) above, its standing orders.
To approve the governance processes required to progress the collaboration with Waverley Borough Council.