New shared legal services partnership launched in Somerset

ShapeMendipThis week sees the launch of a new tri-district shared legal services partnership which aims to streamline and improve the service offered to customers while also making vital efficiency savings.

The creation of Shape Partnership Services – Law & Governance is the result of Mendip District Council teaming up with Taunton Deane Borough Council (TDBC) and West Somerset Council (WSC) to provide one shared legal service across the three authorities.

The new tri-council partnership will deliver immediate savings of between 10% -15% to TDBC and 15% to WSC, while Mendip aims to make 14% savings within the first five years of the project.

The key outcomes of the new shared legal services partnership include:

  • Improving resilience – better able to cope with peaks in workload and staff absences. A larger legal team will also give each council access to a greater breadth and depth of professional expertise.
  • Reduced external expenditure – additional resources and a broader skills base will lead to a reduction in the need for external advice and representation. Where this is required, the combined purchasing power of all three councils should lead to more competitive procurement rates.
  • Improved customer service – access to a more comprehensive legal service should result in a better and more responsive service to officers, councillors and the local community.
  • Decreased fixed costs – sharing or joining up legal services across three councils should lead to savings in software (licences), legal library resources and general support.

The new Law & Governance service began on 1st April. As host authority, Mendip is responsible for the employment of all staff. Staff will be moved over to Mendip under TUPE regulations. There are no job losses as a result of the new partnership.

Donna Nolan, Corporate Manager for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces at Mendip District Council, said: “The new tri-district Law & Governance service is a fantastic example of local authorities working together to improve the service they provide to customers, while also making important savings which can be re-invested in frontline services.

“All councils are having to find ways to do more for less and this new partnership shows how Mendip and its partners are not afraid of taking bold decisions to improve and transform the way they deliver services.”

Bruce Lang, Assistant Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer of Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils said: “I am delighted that the new shared services legal partnership is now up and running.  This will be of mutual benefit to all three partner councils by providing greater resilience and maintaining standards for the service, whilst also delivering efficiencies.”