Cambs councils' legal teams sign agreement to drive down costs and share expertise

PUBLISHED: 15:44 27 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:37 02 June 2010

LEGAL teams from councils across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire have signed a new agreement which will see savings for taxpayers while ensuring that their rights continue to be protected. The new Concordat will see legal expertise shared between the coun

LEGAL teams from councils across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire have signed a new agreement which will see savings for taxpayers while ensuring that their rights continue to be protected.

The new Concordat will see legal expertise shared between the councils and other ways of driving down costs implemented, while maintaining a high-quality service.

Council legal teams provide vital services for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough communities, ranging from planning enforcement and prosecuting rogue traders and businesses guilty of food hygiene offences to advising on housing and homelessness issues and drawing up contracts.

All seven local authorities in Cambridgeshire have signed up to the Concordat. The group calls itself the Cambridgeshire Legal Services Partnership and has already started work on the establishing a panel of legal firms which can be used by group members at discounted rates.

Future plans to help reduce costs also include jointly procuring legal research tools and developing centres of excellence within the group to reduce the reliance upon private sector lawyers.

The participating authorities are Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge and Peterborough City Councils and Fenland, South Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire District Councils.

Ian Hunt, Fenland District Council's head of legal services, said: "In this time of financial pressures on council budgets it makes sense for us all to work much closer together and share our expertise. This new Concordat will help make savings for Council taxpayers and improve the service we offer our communities.

"Legal services are one of those backroom functions that often residents know little about but which can have a significant effect. Our role is to protect the councils and the communities we serve and our work touches every service that we deliver.

"Council legal teams work behind the scenes on a range of issues, from negotiating multi-million pound development and planning agreements to prosecuting con artists who have cheated local residents.

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