Essex

Essex councils consider combined services

Two councils in Essex are exploring the possibility of sharing services for council tax, benefits and business rates collection.

Harlow and Uttlesford councils are to carry out a feasibility study to identify costs, benefits and savings from a partnership.

It is hoped the study will be undertaken and evaluated during the summer.

The plan is to introduce the new system from 1 April 2011.

Staff are to be consulted about changes before they are introduced.

Financial challenges

Andrew Johnson, leader of Harlow Council, said: "In these difficult financial times councils across the country are exploring different ways to provide services.

"This will include looking at opportunities to work with neighbouring councils to share services.

"Residents would still access these services in Harlow as a front line office would remain."

Jim Ketteridge, leader of Uttlesford District Council, said: "We have stated in our corporate plan that entering into appropriate partnerships is a key aim of the council.

"It forms part of our plans to meet the financial challenges of the next few years. As with Harlow, we would be retaining a front office here so residents can access services face-to-face."

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