Report published on Lessons Learnt from proposed merger


Published on 5 January 2023
Archived on 5 February 2023

Between June 2020 and April 2022, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council worked together to explore joint working and then a merger with the intention of creating a new South Warwickshire District Council by April 2024. The proposal to merge was approved by both Councils in December 2021, following which a submission was made to the Secretary of State. However, as previously reported in April 2022, the plans for the merger were ended.

To ensure that lessons can be learnt from this exercise, Stratford-on-Avon District Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee commissioned an independent report from Shared Intelligence. The purpose of the report is designed to help both Stratford and the wider sector identify learning points and the report provides recommendations on issues to consider in similar situations. The report has wider benefits for the whole sector, and was funded in the main by the Local Government Association. To ensure completeness and balance, Warwick District Council participated in the review.

The full report is available on the Stratford-on-Avon District Council website, however, the main findings are as follows:

  • A match on paper does not necessarily mean there is a cultural fit;
  • Vision needs to be developed and refined to maintain commitment;
  • Open dialogue is needed, allowing space for concerns to be raised;
  • The implementation plan needs to allow space to identify and resolve differences in the way of working;
  • Driving a merger programme needs single executive leadership;
  • The impact on staff is significant and creates new burdens and anxiety.

Councillor Andrew Crump chaired the task and finish group which commissioned the review. He stated: "I am very grateful for the work that Shared Intelligence undertook in producing this valuable report. I am also grateful to all of those officers and Councillors from both councils who participated in the review.

The learning points from this report will be extremely valuable to the Council and indeed the whole sector. In the spirit of positivity and collaboration that drove the two councils to investigate the possible merger so thoroughly, we're delighted that it can be shared with local authorities across the country to guide the vision and understanding in any future similar operations."

Councillor Tony Jefferson, Leader of the Council, made the following comment "Whilst it is disappointing that the merger did not progress, both Councils are continuing to work positively together for the wider benefit of our residents. I welcome this report and will certainly take into account the recommendations when considering future joint working proposals."

The report will be debated at the meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee which meets at Elizabeth House, Stratford-upon-Avon at 10am on Friday 13 January 2023.

Contact details

Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire,
CV37 6HX
Tel: 01789 267575

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Last updated on 05/01/2023