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Agenda item

Publica Review- Local Partnerships Transition Plan


To consider the Local Partnerships report and to approve the recommendations therein.



That Full Council Resolves to:

1.            Approve the recommendations set out in the Local Partnerships report

2.            Instruct the Interim Programme Director to prepare a detailed transition plan, building on the recommendations set out in the Local Partnerships report, for subsequent agreement by Cabinet and Council.


The Chair invited those Publica colleagues who felt that they should leave the room to do so. It was noted that an officer from the ICT team would remain in the room to support the technology, as ICT was not part of the proposed transition.


The Chair invited the Leader of Council to introduce the report.


The Leader of the Council, Councillor Joe Harris, made the following report:


  • In highlighting the background, an options appraisal was undertaken to examine the future of some Council services remaining within Publica following a Local Government Association Peer Review towards the end of 2022.
  • Full Council at its meeting on 22 November 2023 considered and approved the Publica Review report recommendations from Human Engine. The options appraisal from Human Engine recommended that the Council return a majority of the services from Publica to the partner councils.
  • Publica would continue to deliver a number of support and customer service functions for the councils. 
  • The work had begun on the transition through the appointment of Andrew Pollard as the Interim Programme Director and the recruitment of Local Partnerships consultancy through the Local Government’s Associations Transformation Fund to provide a bridging report to the final transition plan later in 2024.
  • The use of Local Partnerships was to help set out some of the key consideration as part of the transition plan to navigate the complex requirements in transferring employees back to council employment such as governance and service design.
  • The Local Partnerships team engaged with Council staff and Publica staff and management during this process to understand the current position.
  • The timescales and services set out were indicative which would feed into the transition plan based on their previous experience.


Councillor Tony Dale as seconder then reserved his right to speak.


Council noted the resource required and the complexities of the work in insourcing services back to the Council.


Council noted the uncertainties regarding the financial costs for insourcing services from Publica and the need for more financial information as part of the transition plan.


Council noted the need for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to be involved in examining the transition plan.


Council asked about the need for the Council to be more fleet of foot in delivering services and cost savings as this was not mentioned in the report. There were also questions around customer services and procurement not being brought back in-house under the proposals and how these would be managed as key parts of the Council.


Councillor Harris noted that procurement and customer services were heavily integrated within Publica, and that this arrangement was working well. Furthermore, this current process was identifying services in the short to medium term that could be brought back to the Councils. However, the points raised around the key considerations of cost savings and service delivery would be taken onboard.


Councillor Mike Evemy joined the meeting during the debate.


Council noted the work done by customer services staff in difficult circumstances.


Council raised a number of questions during the debate, including on:

  • The size of the team required to work on the transition project.
  • Whether there would be a risk register for the programme?
  • The role of the Interim Programme Director and the future of shared services with West Oxfordshire District Council.
  • The administration of complaints addressed to the Council.
  • How would climate change and environmental sustainably be considered in the absence of an officer.
  • How the various roles would be set out to Members during the transition.
  • The timescales of implementing phase 1 by October 2024.
  • How staff had responded to the changes.
  • The Local Government Pension Scheme.
  • The confirmation of the final services to remain within Publica.


Councillor Dale as seconder then summed up and responded to the questions and points raised:


  • Officers and members were keen to do the transition at pace and provide stability and security to those involved.
  • The Local Partnerships report was to provide a starting point for Members on the future services.
  • There was a need for clear communication on staff impacted.
  • The project was complicated by its own nature and that there were opportunities to simplify the process and maximise service delivery.
  • Flexibility was noted as a key consideration, but this was alluded to in the report and was part of the process.
  • Customer services was noted as one of the most transformed services within Publica and breaking this model was not seen as appropriate.
  • The proposals set out for sovereign or shared services within Local Partnerships was just an indicative model and further work would be required to finalise this.
  • There would be finance, human resources and legal support for the programme office with the appropriate resources such as risk registers being undertaken.
  • The Chief Executives of the partner councils were responsible for the transition, but the Interim Program Director worked across all three councils to support the project.
  • The work on managing complaints was being done well by customer services with the support of back-office staff.
  • The issue of climate change work within the councils would be something that should be embedded in all of the Council’s priorities.


Councillor Harris in summing up then made the following points:

  • The councils were moving at different paces, but this difference was not a cause for concern.
  • There were also conversations around working with West Oxfordshire District Council due to the historic ties between the two Councils.


The recommendations were proposed by Councillor Joe Harris and seconded by Councillor Dale.


RESOLVED: That Full Council

1. APPROVED the recommendations set out in the Local

Partnerships report

2. AGREED to instruct the Interim Programme Director to prepare a detailed

transition plan, building on the recommendations set out in the

Local Partnerships report, for subsequent agreement by

Cabinet and Council.


Voting Record


21 For, 0 Against, 9 Abstentions, 4 Absent/Did not vote






not vote

Andrew Maclean


Chris Twells

Claire Bloomer

Angus Jenkinson


Daryl Corps

Julia Judd

Clare Turner


David Cunningham

Roly Hughes

Dilys Neil


David Fowles

Tristan Wilkinson

Gary Selwyn


Gina Blomefield


Helene Mansilla


Jeremy Theyer


Ian Watson


Len Wilkins


Joe Harris


Tom Stowe


Jon Wareing


Tony Slater


Juliet Layton




Lisa Spivey




Mark Harris




Mike Evemy




Michael Vann




Mike McKeown




Nigel Robbins




Nikki Ind




Patrick Coleman




Paul Hodgkinson




Ray Brassington




Tony Dale





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