Derbyshire County Council
In 2000, Derbyshire County Council was instrumental in setting up the Derbyshire Partnership Forum which consists of 54 member organisations who contribute to the delivery of the Community Strategy.
Derbyshire County Council and a range of local public sector organisations were aware of a number of papers published over the last decade and more specifically the Government's White Paper on Strong and Prosperous Communities which stated that "Managing assets effectively is vital to achieving cost savings for local authorities and helping them to deliver better outcomes for citizens: disposing of, or improving, underperforming assets, and modernising assets...".
The forum was designed to improve understanding, communication and co-ordination of activities between partners in two strands:
- joined-up service redesign; and
- rationalising the property portfolio.
One of the key objectives of the forum was to develop a shared service centre in South Normanton.
The delivery of the South Normanton shared service centre is to be achieved by:
A corporate approach - which includes:
- assessing the performance of existing portfolios;
- identifying accommodation needs;
- exploring different ways to deliver the project;
- appraising suitable buildings to meet needs; and
- preparing a business case.
Collaboration - which includes:
- bringing all parties together;
- creating good communication channels;
- a willingness from the top to make improvements happen;
- understanding others' needs and requirements; and
- identifying different ways to deliver services.
Challenge - which includes:
- understanding and identifying the possible pitfalls and overcoming the difficulties in order to achieve an objective.
The process included:
- identifying a brownfield site, owned by a developer who was to deliver the project on a design and build contract;
- working up a scheme;
- obtaining planning approval; and
- signing of the contracts.
The basis of the property agreement included:
- Derbyshire County Council taking a 25-year head lease of the whole building from the developer; and
- 25-year subleases being granted to the other six partners organisations.
The results of this project include:
The provision of a building with 3,500 square metres of floor space accommodating a:
- children's centre;
- GP practice;
- police office;
- district council contact centre;
- parish council office;
- day centre for adults under 65 years;
- adult education centre;
- conference and meeting rooms;
- offices and treatment rooms for PCT; and
- 24 social housing units run by a registered social landlord.
The benefits of this approach to the council include:
- better understanding the needs and requirements of all local bodies providing public services;
- the ability to identify opportunities to rationalise land and buildings;
- the ability to identify opportunities to share accommodation;
- the ability to consider alternative means of delivering services; and
- helping to achieve collaboration on other projects.
The potential difficulties to overcome include:
- a lack of information, knowledge and understanding;
- differing political persuasions;
- differing priorities;
- a lack of commitment;
- a lack of resources - Staff, ICT etc;
- demographics /geographics; and
- the global economy.