Harmonising cross-border planning and increasing cooperation among Councils along the Irish border in service delivery, economic development and environmental management remain an important priority for both Irish administrations. The Cross-Border Spatial Planning and Training Network (CroSPlaN), managed by the International Centre for Local and Regional Development, supports new initiatives to strengthen cooperation among local councils in the border region.
The programme is funded under the EU INTERREG IVA programme managed by the Special EU Programmes body and is part of the wider Ireland-Northern Ireland Cross-Border Cooperation Observatory (INICCO II) Programme managed by the Centre for Cross Border Studies and a number of key agencies from across the island of Ireland.
First established in 2009, the now-named CroSPlaN II is a unique partnership that brings together researchers, planners, councilors and officials in Northern Ireland and the Irish Border Region.
Shared Services is one of the key projects through which CrosSPlaN II will respond to the need for sustained support to territorial cooperation in the Irish border region. The ICLRD (the principal CCBS partner in this project) has gained unique cross-border experience on shared services between local authorities (across the border and inside the two Irish jurisdictions) in INICCO-1. It now aims to move towards practical implementation in INICCO-2.
The Shared Services project will initially undertake an action research study to map competencies and responsibilities and identify common areas where local government in both jurisdictions can adapt a shared services agenda, placing a special emphasis on the potential shared delivery of frontline and specialised services. Working with key local and regional stakeholders, a learning network will be established through four focus groups and supported through this dedicated shared services website. Two pilot projects will be developed in sharing services: a multi-lateral project that will involve a cluster of councils and a bi-lateral pilot project between two councils. The focus of the shared services to be piloted will be identified based on the findings of the action research and the priorities identified by the Councils. The Final Report will be made available electronically on the ICLRD website, www.iclrd.org.