A ground-breaking e-government collaboration deal, the North Yorkshire ICT Partnership, last week saw a seventh council pull out of a what had been a nine-council partnership.
The City of York Council withdrew from what had been one of the largest e-government Pathfinder projects.
The North Yorkshire ICT Partnership was founded in June 2002 with nine council members but by December 2003 it was down to only five.
Two more dropped out earlier this year and last week City of York Council decided it would not sign a 10-year contract, originally valued at £270m.
City of York Council said it would not be able to achieve the savings it had expected under the contract and it also cited the government's withdrawal of £650,000 funding as a reason for withdrawing from the project.
A council executive report stated that, if the deal went ahead, York would pay between £8.8m and £10.3m over 10 years, which was more than the council had anticipated.
James Drury, head of public services at City of York Council, said, "Each council is going to make its own decision, and it is not as simple as 'there is a contract and there is a price'.
"There are political and legislative decisions as well. If a regional government comes into being, it could mean the demise of some of the partner councils.
"Central government could do away with the county council, for example. This has implications for a 10-year contract."
Drury added that City of York would still meet its e-government requirements.
Earlier this year under a pre-contract agreement, technologist and business process service provider Agilisys carried out work on a pilot customer relationship management system and website implementation, both of which were supported by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Charles Mindenhall, chief executive of Agilisys, said the firm had made a substantial investment in technical development, pilot projects and staff recruitment, in areas such as web development, systems integration, business consultancy and change management.
Mindenhall said, "We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with the City of York Council throughout the procurement process."
But he acknowledged that the council faced a range of pressures. "Councils need to make their own decisions on whether to remain in the partnership and we can understand the constraints they face in making decisions."
The shrinking North Yorks partnership
Summer 2002 - The North Yorkshire ICT Partnership founded, comprising nine councils.
Winter 2003 - Partnership down to five councils: Ryedale, City of York, Hambleton, Richmondshire and North Yorkshire.
Spring 2004 - Ryedale and Richmondshire drop out and pilot projects begin.
Autumn 2004 - City of York leaves the partnership. Just North Yorkshire and Hambleton councils remain.