Councils join together to benefit from new network contract
Highland and Islands Councils have signed a multi-million pound contract on behalf of the Pathfinder North Partnership, led by The Highland Council, for the provision of Network Services starting in March 2016.
The deal is part of the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) Framework agreement awarded to CAPITA in February 2014 and has a potential value of around £33m (over 7 years) across the five Partners for whom it is expected to generate significant cost savings.
The Pathfinder North Partnership is a long-standing Partnership of 5 Local Authorities and around 750 sites (Highland, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Western Isles and Orkney Islands Councils), who have been working together since 2006 when the original Pathfinder North Network Project began. The Highland Council led Partnership have always been forward thinking in their approach to Shared Services and as such have been integral to the SWAN Framework procurement as the second largest of the four ‘Vanguard’ Partners (NHS, Education Scotland, Pathfinder North and Pathfinder South).
The SWAN network, which is currently in the initial stages of being rolled out to NHS sites across Scotland, is a high speed and cost-effective broadband service with complementary shared services. It will operate across all of Scotland including the most remote areas of the Highlands and Islands, enabling the provision of all frontline and back office Council functions as well as potentially providing Network Services to all other Public Sector bodies in Scotland.
The Leader of The Highland Council, Councillor Drew Hendry said: “I’ve been closely involved with this project from the beginning as I believe people accessing our services, especially in rural and remote communities, should be able to do so effectively and be in no way disadvantaged. Sharing services with other Councils allows us to explore new options and benefit from economies of scale so last year I took the opportunity to speak to the SWAN Management Board to highlight the important role the roll-out will have in taking forward Scottish Local Government and Public Service reform.
“This has the potential to bring all the partners significant financial benefits so it is a win-win situation for as well as saving money we will all still get the benefits of a high standard of service. I’m delighted that the close working has paid off and we are now at this stage to take the project forward.”
Finance Secretary John Swinney said: “The Pathfinder North Group as part of the SWAN Vanguard Partnership is a great example of how key partners have come together to deliver cost savings and develop a shared services environment.
“Through the SWAN Programme, this approach should be replicated across the public sector. I look forward to seeing the delivery of further national Digital Public Services rolled out.”