Five West Yorkshire councils have signed an agreement to create a joint legal services framework with the aim of saving about £1.6m a year across the five authorities.
Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield councils have signed up to the ‘WYLAW’ agreement to share expertise and resources between their respective legal teams.
The agreement follows a move by Kirklees Council in June to create of a barristers panel, which will also made available for the other four councils’ legal departments (19 May 2011).
A memorandum of understanding has now been signed at City Hall in Bradford committing the five organisations to working together on a number of fronts, including a shared electronic hub of information, joint procurement of external law firms or panels, a reduction of the number of locums and agency staff and recruitment of new staff on the understanding they will work across the different councils.
The five authorities have stated that there will not be any staff reductions as a result of the agreement.
The councils’ in-house legal teams currently advise on governance and decision-making and deal with a range of criminal and civil matters including elections, major projects, licensing, prosecutions, personal injury claims, employment and property matters, highways, planning, education, housing and environmental health.
Bradford Council leader Ian Greenwood said: “The aim of this agreement is to work together to provide effective legal support to the five authorities at a lower overall cost. It’ll help to reduce costs to Bradford council-tax payers and contribute to the savings required in the council, in the context of public sector funding cuts.”
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box added: “This is an excellent opportunity for West Yorkshire councils to pool their considerable experience and expertise in dealing with often complex legal issues.
“Each of us has strengths that will benefit the others and by working together – rather than buying in from outside – we’ll save money and improve our services.”