To share or not to share?

Glasgow city councillors will vote today on whether or not to continue with a proposal for shared services across Clyde Valley.

East Renfrewshire’s representatives unanimously agreed last week that ERC should continue working on the plans.

In 2009, council leaders across the region came together to examine where local authorities could share resources to deliver efficiencies and financial savings in areas including waste, IT, health, social care and transport.

East Renfrewshire council leader Jim Fletcher said: “None of us welcome the shortfall in funds we are facing. We are looking at years of austerity.

“Our own internal transformation programme has been extremely successful in delivering savings and efficiencies, however, we cannot pretend that continuing with that programme alone wouldn’t impact on frontline services.

“This plan for shared services doesn’t deliver our staff to the private sector, it retains them in the public sector and ensures public sector control over these important support services.

“Savings and jobs would remain in the public sector and it commits to protecting jobs within the local area. It is a sensible way for the council to proceed”.

However, Glasgow city council is less convinced.

A recent paper set to be debated by councillors tomorrow said potential savings depend on the extent of the involvement of other local authorities, and it suggested Glasgow could possibly be better off financially if it pulled out.

With eight councils involved originally, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire have already withdrawn.

Pollokshields Conservative councillor David Meikle “needs more convincing that we can actually be more efficient financially with this proposal.

“We would need to invest approximately £30m to realise the ‘savings’.

“I’m also concerned the impact it could have on local decision making and most importantly the risks involved if it fails”.

Newlands/Auldburn Labour councillor Stephen Curran believes it is “far better to work together by design, rather than wait till we are forced because of cuts in the next three years.

“It’s something which is always on the agenda and we are commited to the idea”.

Langside SNP councillor James Dornan remains open to the prospect.

He told The Extra: “I welcome East Renfrewshire’s decision to look at shared services. Clearly where council’s can work together, we should look at that seriously.

“Although it is important that we have Glasgow’s interests at heart when making any decisions to do so”.