Buckinghamshire County Council has appointed Hugh Peart, Director of Governance and Legal Services at Harrow, as its new Head of Legal.
Peart will divide his time between the two local authorities and explore ways in which their legal functions "can work more closely together to share expertise, cut duplication and reduce costs”.
He succeeds Anne Davies, who is retiring after 12 years as head of Buckinghamshire’s legal team.
Peart, who will start the joint role on 1 April, said: “I am looking forward to working with Buckinghamshire’s excellent legal team to ensure it has a sustainable future and provides the best possible support to the County’s many services.”
He added: “Excellent legal advice is essential for local authorities as they tackle the significant challenges ahead. I will be focusing my time on ensuring they can access that advice at the least possible cost to enable them to focus scarce resources on front line services.”
Buckinghamshire and the Harrow-hosted HB Public Law were the first teams to set up local authority-owned alternative business structures (ABSs).
Peart’s appointment to the joint council role is to be separate from the two ABS’ operations, Buckinghamshire said.
Peter Hardy, the county council's Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “Anne will be a very difficult act to follow, but in Hugh I’m confident we have strong and progressive legal leadership, who can draw on a breadth of legal expertise from two teams of highly professional practitioners.”
Hardy added that sharing legal services would provide both authorities with greater capacity and more flexibility in responding to council demands, extend the range of expertise, and in a climate of slimmer government grants, help towards reducing costs.
“Working with Harrow will give us additional opportunities for our legal team to generate income from new customers,” he said.
Davies said: “I have never regretted my move from private practice into local government. The work is always challenging and stimulating. I would urge lawyers looking to develop their careers to consider seriously all that the public sector has to offer.”