Issue - meetings

The Future of East Kent HR (EKHR)

Meeting: 25/05/2021 - Overview & Scrutiny Panel (Item 309)

309 Call-In of Cabinet Decision: The Future of East Kent HR (EKHR) pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Bayford introduced the item and made the following comments:


  • Panel Members called in the 29 April Cabinet decision on this issue, as there was a feeling among Members that there was not enough discussion about the alternative proposals;
  • However, from further discussions with senior officers particularly Ms Madeline Homer, CEx and Ms Estelle Culligan, Director of Law and Democracy, there was now an understanding that the decision which Cabinet was asked to take, was part of a wider decision, together with Canterbury and Dover, to disband the EK HR service and take back the services in-house;
  •  These decisions were in accordance with the Collaboration Agreement which governs the EKHR service and mean that, essentially, once one Council takes the decision, the others must follow;
  • Beyond that, how the services are organised internally, is a matter for the Chief Executive, as Head of Paid Service;
  • It was reported that Canterbury City Council took the decision to disband the service on 19 April and Dover District Council had recently taken the decision on 17 May;
  • Therefore, in reality, Thanet District Council could not change that decision;
  • However, it was useful for the Panel to understand more about the background and the reasons for the decision.


Ms Culligan set out additional background and said the following:

  • At the Strategic board meeting in Autumn, each council expressed a desire for a service which was aligned more to their respective internal needs;
  • East Kent HR was governed by a collaborative agreement;
  • EKHR service was managed by East Kent Services;
  • Dover District Council was the host to EKHR, as part of the delivery arrangement;
  • The collaborative agreement sets out what would happen if a particular service was disbanded. Each council would take back its staff on the same conditions;
  • As to how these employees would be deployed in-house was for the CEx to determine as Head of Paid Services.


Councillor Ashbee spoke under Council Procedure 20.1.


Members made comments and asked questions as follows:


  • Will there be a policy framework for the General Purposes Committee that would be in the Committee’s terms of reference?
  • How long would this process take to bring in the HR service in-house?
  • Will the budget to be used be part of the EKHR Reserves?
  • Were there any potential jobs at risks for the staff affected by these changes?
  • The council may end up paying more for the staff whose lifestyle may be impacted as a result of relocating to come and work in Thanet (at the Council Offices because some of the employees may be Dover locals;
  • The part of the councillor involvement in HR matters in the report is weak. At what point do Members get involved in staff matters?
  • Will the GPC be making employment policy?


Ms Homer and Ms Culligan responded as follows:

  • The appropriate committee to deal with staff matters was the GPC;
  • Nothing yet had been done to set that out the GPC role in relation to in-house HR service;
  • Nearer the time to move  ...  view the full minutes text for item 309

Meeting: 29/04/2021 - Cabinet (Item 726)

726 The Future of East Kent HR (EKHR) pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Additional documents:


Cabinet considered the report that set out proposals to disband the East Kent HR Service (EKHR) and take HR services in house with effect from 1 September 2021. The proposals set out the rationale for the decision, the proposed processes and relevant recommendations.


The HR function had been a shared service for Canterbury City Council (CCC), Dover District Council (DDC) and Thanet District Council (TDC) since September 2010. In its original form, it was a four way shared service, with the inclusion of Folkestone and Hythe District Council (formerly Shepway District Council). Shepway District Council unilaterally left the HR shared service a few years later. The original Collaboration Agreement (20/9/10) was replaced by the current Collaboration Agreement dated 14/10/16 between DDC, CCC and TDC.


A significant benefit of the proposal would be the closer alignment of the individual HR services with the corporate priorities of each Council. Whilst the Chief Executive was the Head of Paid Service and has ultimate responsibility for staffing matters, the proposal would ensure that members would have more involvement in issues such as setting HR policies and procedures which directly affect each Council’s staff. Members would also be able to have a better understanding of issues which affect staff.


The following Members spoke under Council Procedure Rule 20.1:


Councillor Ashbee;

Councillor Stuart Piper;

Councillor Garner.


Councillor Whitehead proposed, Councillor Albon seconded and Cabinet agreed:


1.  That EKHR should be disbanded and that the HR service returns in house;


2.  That authority is delegated to the Interim Head of Shared Services, in consultation with the Chief Executive and Leader, to carry out all necessary processes to give effect to the decision;


3.  That authority is given to the Interim Head of Shared Services to sign off and enter into any agreements necessary to give effect to the decision. This includes, but is not limited to, novation of contracts between any of the three Councils and any third parties;


4.  To recommend to Council that the East Kent Shared Services Collaboration Agreement dated 14 October 2 016 is amended t o reflect the changes set out in recommendations 1 - 3.