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Regional data center could be built in Plymouth

August 09
18:48 2012

Web Hosting – A data centre to handle information for councils and public organisations across the region could be set up in Plymouth. The centre is one of the measures being worked on by the council in the face of huge cuts demanded by the Government.

City Cabinet member Cllr Peter Smith said the centre would cost several million pounds to set up. “We are talking to our partners,” MrSmith said. A business case would be prepared in the autumn, and “we’ll get moving very soon after that”. Plymouth’s concept of shared data services is being held up as an example of leading the way,” Mr Smith said.

The council already saves about £200,000 a year by sharing audit services with Devon and Torbay councils. But it lags behind some of its neighbours, which are already making even bigger savings.

West Devon Borough Council and South Hams District Council have saved £2.03million since 2007.

The two councils now have a shared chief executive and shared senior management team, according to a report by former city councillor Chris Pattison, published this week, which gives the thumbs-up to councils sharing services and buildings.

Mr Pattison, chair of Plymouth-based consultants Drummond MacFarlane, Chair, said councils had seen their government grants slashed and faced a new squeeze in the next spending review. He said that about 220 English councils were already sharing services.

“Where shared services are well and sympathetically planned they can be a success,” he said. “If they are not well planned there is always a risk of things going wrong.”

He said that Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service had shown that services could be shared more widely than with just neighbouring authorities. And with Plymouth’s aim of becoming a Co-operative Council there was scope to share services with the voluntary sector.

“Local government has faced a 28per cent cut in central government support. Shared services won’t fill that gap, but they will help,” Mr Pattison said.

His report was commissioned by the Local Government Association. It demonstrates for the first time the scale of savings that are being made by innovative local authorities. Mr Pattison’s study found that councils could save millions of pounds without compromising the standard and quality of services delivered.

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