North East boroughs unveil merged panel

Five North East boroughs have merged their external legal spend, appointing Newcastle-based firms Dickinson Dees and Ward Hadaway to their new panel.

Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton councils are the first local authorities in the region to jointly procure legal services.

Dickinson Dees and Ward Hadaway have been appointed as their joint preferred advisers for the next five years. The firms will advise on issues including regeneration and Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects, PFI schemes and procurement.

The win is a particular coup for Ward Hadaway’s head of public sector, Melanie Pears, who joined from Eversheds in October (as first reported by The Lawyer, 6 October 2006).

In a statement, Pears said: “This is the first time that local authorities in the North-East have joined together in this way. We believe it will provide the taxpayers of the Tees Valley with excellent value for money and an exceptionally high quality legal service.”

The initiative is in response to the Gershon report on public sector efficiency, which called on local authorities to combine services to produce efficiencies.

Halton, Knowsley and Sefton metropolitan borough councils and West Lancashire District Council pooled their legal spend earlier this month (as first reported by The Lawyer 8 January, 2006), becoming the first authorities to do so in the North West.