PLANS to integrate the workforce of Stratford and Warwick District Councils and find a shared civic and office space are set to continue regardless of whether a full merger is agreed.

Savings of up to £3.8m each year have been identified although, according to officers, the greatest opportunity to cut costs will come if the two authorities merge and operate as a single body.

Members of Stratford District Council’s cabinet this week [Monday] recommended to full council that work progresses on the full integration and that the search continues for a new HQ. A similar decision is expected from their counterparts at Warwick.

Estimates drawn up by financial experts Deloittes show that the majority of the savings will be made by Warwick District Council – £2.5m from 2025/26.

Speaking at this week’s meeting, Cllr Chris Kettle (Con, Bishop’s Itchington) said: “Are we still comfortable that the savings are realistic after all the additional work that has been done – or might we see more savings?”

Cllr Mark Cargill (Con, Alcester Rural), the portfolio holder for transformation, replied: “I’m not aware of any changes at this stage. It is dynamic and will depend on things like the speed of the integration and the amount of staff involved.”

And chief executive David Buckland added: “The figure of £3.8m is slightly below what Deloittes had forecast in their report so it is a prudent estimate.”

In a report prepared for the meeting, it was explained that the computer systems at both councils needed updating and that was key to any integration of services.

The report said: “ICT is a fundamental support area for the proposed service integrations –without an effective, converged ICT team and infrastructure to support the council’s aspirations, it will be virtually impossible to achieve the predicted benefits of the merger process.

“The timing of the ICT service integration is optimal. It ensures that the ICT team will be ready to support other services through their transformation journey, which would be significantly more difficult if ICT’s merger were delayed.

“ICT are also supportive of the recommendation to make an early decision regarding future office accommodation. ICT infrastructure at both WDC and SDC requires significant future investment, and this process can be made far more effective if a direction for office accommodation is agreed.”