EAST Hampshire and Havant councils have announced a shock end to their 12-year partnership – just three months after announcing a ’one workforce’ merger.

Councillors at both authorities agreed to cut and merge their staff to create one workforce under a so-called ‘Shaping our Future’ plan in September.

East Hampshire council leader Richard Millard said at the time the project would go "live" in about two years at a "significant cost", but in the long-run would offer "financial sustainability" to both councils.

However, in a joint statement released on Thursday, the two district councils said: "After a 12-year partnership, East Hampshire District Council and Havant Borough Council have decided that it is the right moment to establish their own management teams so they can focus on their different strategic priorities and deliver outcomes for their communities more quickly."

The statement added: "The partnership has been very successful since it was created in 2009 and has delivered significant savings for both councils – as well as providing other benefits."

Cllr Millard said: "We have worked as close partners because we have had a number of shared interests over the years – but now is the time to focus on our specific areas and really target our energy into delivering outcomes which benefit our specific communities.

"The management team and staff across both organisations have done an absolutely fantastic job and I look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver our priorities."

Cllr Alex Rennie, leader of Havant Borough Council, said: "We have had a really successful partnership but this is the right moment to move in our own directions.

"I would like to thank all the staff who have pulled out all the stops to deliver our shared priorities.

"I envisage that we will continue to work closely where there are tangible benefits for our communities."

It is currently unknown what led to the shock split and u-turn, but there are reports the government is gearing up for mass local government reorganisation this year.

In his column for the Herald this week, Cllr Millard stated the council "may face a further fight in 2022 with the prospect of devolution looming".