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Strategic alliance between Lincolnshire councils under threat of judicial review

A newly created strategic alliance between two councils is under threat after opposing councillors from one authority say they plan a judicial review of the decision.

The strategic alliance between Boston Borough Council and East Lindsey District Council was originally abandoned at the beginning of last month (11 June 2020) when Boston pulled out. However, the plan later resurfaced and was agreed upon by the two councils and came into effect on July 1.

In agreeing the proposals, Councillors agreed to appoint Rob Barlow current Chief Executive of East Lindsey District Council as Joint Chief Executive/Head of Paid Service.

Both councils were to adopt a shared Management Team over the following three months, before a wider joining of workforces across both Councils would take place in the coming two years.

The councils emphasised that Boston and East Lindsey would retain their own identities and would continue to be accountable to their local communities, whilst making substantial savings (£15.4 million over the course of 10 years).

But objecting Boston councillors criticised the move, saying in a letter to the authority’s leader that they have “grave concerns “and will seek judicial review if they are not addressed”.

In the statement, the councillors said: “Despite asking for answers to our many legal, financial and procedural questions, we have received absolutely no response from the ruling group at this council.

“There is no doubt that the proposed Strategic Alliance has been rushed through our council in a matter of weeks

“Our questions about staffing, finances, processes and procedures have fallen on deaf ears, and this left us with no choice but to seek a remedy elsewhere.”

Simon Bell of Knights Solicitors has been instructed to act on behalf of the Boston Borough Council opposition.

On the announcement of the strategic alliance on June 30, the leaders of both councils, Councillor Paul Skinner (BBC) and Councillor Craig Leyland (ELDC), made a joint statement: "We are extremely pleased to see that the alliance has been agreed by both councils. Though we have always worked closely, a formal partnership will strengthen both organisations as we seek to deliver our growth ambitions and look to overcome future challenges.

By working closer together, we will be able to continue to deliver the services our residents expect in a more efficient and innovative way."

Leader of Boston Borough Council, Councillor Paul Skinner, said: “The Council agreed to progress a strategic alliance with East Lindsey District Council from July 1, 2020 and a shared Leadership Team is now in place to drive this forward.  The alliance will deliver £15.4m of savings to the Councils over the next 10 years whilst creating significant opportunities for us to improve our services to the community and deliver our priorities for Boston. 

"Whilst we recognise a judicial review is being sought on this matter, our focus remains very much on doing the best we can for the people of Boston and the alliance is progressing at pace.”

East Lindsey District Council has been approached for comment.

Adam Carey

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