HBC formally withdraws from partnership

Havant Borough Council has formally agreed to withdraw from its joint management agreement with East Hampshire District Council after councillors considered a business case.

Plans will now be set in motion to create a financially sustainable standalone council so it can pursue its newly refreshed priorities.

The decision will see the 12-year partnership come to an end and separate senior management structures put in place – which is expected to happen by the summer.

As a stand-alone council, HBC will be able to realign its resources to tackle demand early and shift capacity towards preventing need.

It will move from providing generic services to focusing on residents’ needs and improving the day-to-day lives of the borough's residents.

Cllr Alex Rennie, Leader of Havant Borough Council, said: “The partnership has served us really well but now we want to pursue priorities that are totally relevant to the borough.

“The finance report shows that we can be a standalone council now and that we need to reduce costs in the longer term, which is what we’re looking at now. We will also be considering future strategic alliances to ensure we are delivering the very best for our residents and businesses.

“I think that there is a real buzz happening now in Havant – we’re part of the Freeport which is a massive benefit for businesses, we’ve been awarded government support for our high streets and we’ve just approved a fantastic revamped regeneration strategy for the borough.

“So this is a hugely exciting time for Havant and I can’t wait for us to get really stuck in and start making the differences that matter most.”

The council asked the independent accountancy institution CIPFA to assess the likely implications of ending the partnership.

Its report states the council could have the financial resources available to go it alone but highlights a number of risks that must be mitigated.

It recommends several actions HBC can take to secure its financial position as an independent council.

Among other important actions the council has committed to establishing a Budget Working Group and preparing a plan to use available reserves.

The council has put in place management arrangements to support its new direction. This includes Kim Sawyer, currently acting as CEO and Malcolm Coe, an experienced senior finance officer supporting the Budget Working Group.