An outgoing local authority chief executive has called for more councils to work together to transform public services, citing shared waste collections as an obvious area for action.
Tony McArdle, who leaves his post at Lincolnshire County Council at the end of the month, said the “rationale has passed” for two-tier local governance but areas had yet to recognise that this was more than merging councils.
“[Waste] tends to be the biggest single waste of money in two-tier government – in Lincolnshire a lot of public money is wasted because we don’t do it better.
“Hampshire is a very good example of where they have got a joint waste strategy and a joint waste operation that saves money – common methods and common approaches right across the county and in all districts.
“We know that if we did that to the optimum in Lincolnshire, we could save the taxpayer £8m a year. But we don’t do it because it’s too difficult for one reason or another.”
McArdle, speaking in our sister title Local Government Chronicle, said: “There is an opportunity for proper public sector transformation, where counties, districts, the probation service, police, NHS and others can be brought together under local democratic accountability.”
The devolution and shared accountability spearheaded in Greater Manchester was a model “you could apply across the country”, he said, albeit “probably without a mayor in rural areas”.
Seven years ago, McArdle said that a merged trading standards department was proposed, to be managed by one of the district councils. But another district pulled out, sinking plans for wider partnerships, including waste.