Councils merge legal services to save cash
June 01, 2011
Legal services in Wokingham have merged with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead this week.
The two councils’ Shared Legal Solutions (SLS) team was officially launched today.
It is hosted and owned by Wokingham Borough Council and is part of Wokingham’s ongoing work to save cash and change the way it delivers services.
By providing legal services through a shared agreement, the council will reduce overheads and have less reliance on external suppliers. It also hopes to improve recruitment and retention of local authority lawyers.
It is also hoped that lawyers from Reading Borough Council will join the new team in November 2011.
Initially the newly-merged team will consist of 20 lawyers and two trainees, but hopes to expand to 50 when Reading’s Borough Council’s lawyers join later in the year.
Susanne Nelson-Wehrmeyer, director of legal and electoral services, will act as SLS’s business manager on an interim basis.
She said: “We are extremely excited to be one of the first councils in the UK to join forces with another authority in the provision of legal services.
“We are confident that the merger will ensure better value for money for our customers, will improve service resilience and create better career opportunities and support for our staff.
“As council finances are reduced nationally, many other support services may also find themselves joining forces with neighbouring authorities to create shared services.
“It makes good business sense and is already working extremely well for our trading standards team who moved to a shared service with West Berkshire Council last year.
“As we move to this new service delivery we have also taken the opportunity to move to new flexible working patterns, including home working.
“This in turn will mean a reduced staff accommodation and even more savings for the council and its taxpayers.”