Legal eagles join forces to save councils millions

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A CENTRALISED legal service is to be set up for councils throughout West Yorkshire which is expected to save £1.6 million a year and avoid any job losses.

Calderdale Council leader Janet Battye said it was important to spend money wisely.

“Our residents try to balance their household bills by looking closely at how and where they spend their money, changing suppliers, shopping around and looking for the best deal - we need to do the same.”

Councillor Battye (Lib-Dem, Calder) said the council wanted to share services and collaborate more closely with other councils and she was pleased with the latest deal.

A year ago, the council had to spend an extra £136,000 on recruiting four legal assistant and a legal practice manager after a review showed that their solicitors were seriously overworked and struggling to cope.

Conservative councillors said that could be avoided if councils cooperated more closely.

Today’s joint agreement, which also involves Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield councils, commits them to raising the standards of legal support.

They will share knowledge, data and performance information, promote best practice, share work plans, reduce reliance on agency staff and recruit on new terms and conditions that will enable staff to carry out work across the authorities.

There will no staff cuts as a result of the agreement.

Legal officers working for councils provide advice on governance and decision-making to councillors and officers and deal with a range of criminal and civil matters.