Guildford Borough Council : Waverley & Guildford To Create Shared Management Team
Waverley and Guildford Borough Councils have completed the first phase of their move to partnership working by appointing Waverley’s current Chief Executive, Tom Horwood, as Joint Chief Executive of both councils, replacing the need for two separate chief executives. The councils agreed the appointment at their respective Full Council meetings on 1 November and Mr Horwood will take up the new role in early December.
Current Managing Director at Guildford, James Whiteman, did not express an interest in the new role and has taken voluntary redundancy following an accomplished career at the borough council spanning 32 years.
Mr Horwood, who has been chief executive at Waverley for 4 years and was previously a shared Director of two Hampshire district councils, will begin the recruitment of a new joint senior management team. He will also propose governance arrangements for the new collaboration, which, by population and expenditure, is one of the largest borough council partnerships in the country, serving 275,000 residents.
Once in place, members of the new management team will head their respective service areas across both councils and be responsible for preparing business cases for further collaboration. The partnership comes after KPMG published a report in February this year, that highlighted a clear need for neighbouring councils across Surrey to consider the expansion of existing partnerships to reduce the duplication of services, increase efficiency and provide better value for money for residents.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic both councils have worked hard to maintain essential services, help vulnerable communities and support their local economies. However, the additional costs of responding to the outbreak have impacted heavily on budgets already under extreme pressure following years of cuts to local authority funding from Central Government.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore, said: “Congratulations to Tom Horwood and a huge thank you to James Whiteman for his dedication and commitment to Guildford over the past 32 years. This is a significant milestone for both councils, demonstrating our joint commitment to do the very best to protect and future-proof services for our residents, businesses and visitors. We continue to operate in extremely challenging times and like local authorities throughout the country, both councils face ongoing and increasing budget deficits. We are confident that starting this process by creating a shared management team is the best option.
He added: “The joint working agreement is part of our Savings Strategy and will mean we will realise tangible benefits from cost saving to resilience. Despite being on track to achieve our target of £8million savings through our Future Guildford Transformation Programme, we need to save a further £6millon – 10% of our spending – over the next four years in Guildford alone while recent changes by the Government restrict our ability to act in the commercial world to offset a substantial reduction in government funding.”
Councillor Paul Follows, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “Even before the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Waverley Borough Council had embarked on an ambitious programme of measures to deliver cost savings and to increase income from our assets and investments. However, we still face a budget shortfall of £5.8million over the next four years. We continue to explore a range of options to close our funding gap, but the reality is, after more than a decade of cuts and in view of the increase in our NI contributions next year and rapidly increasing costs from our suppliers, we are nearing the limits of what can be achieved on our own.
“I know that across Surrey and nationwide, other district and borough councils are facing the same issues. The annual increase in Council Tax, while having a huge impact on working families, doesn’t come close to replacing the lost funding from Government and many councils are having to make some painful decisions about cutting the services and support they provide to their communities. The KPMG report stressed that partnership working is a way forward and our funding gap is compounding year on year, so we cannot afford to sit on our hands on this.
“Cooperation with Guildford in this way could enable us to make financial savings, and by combining our purchasing power and our individual strengths, could not only help us protect services but potentially even improve them.”
Tom Horwood said: “While local public services face greater pressure than ever, our councillors and staff are committed to working hard for their communities. I am looking forward to working across two councils that have such dedication to finding the best local solutions in this challenging environment.”