Statement from Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council
This is the most thorough and comprehensive analysis yet undertaken of the tri-borough initiative. Indeed, it is the only independent review the three councils' shared services have undergone. I would like to thank Lord Adonis, Prof. Tony Travers and Deborah Lincoln for their enormous hard work and insights.
The three councils shared services initiative has brought benefits to Hammersmith & Fulham although it is striking that the millions of pounds of savings so far achieved across the three councils are roughly equivalent to those delivered by Hackney, Lambeth and Camden on their own without undertaking such a sharing scheme. Those councils each delivered savings by stripping out layers of management instead of sharing them.
The financial tsunami facing local government - H&F is being required to make £71 million of cuts by 2017/18 - requires a bigger and bolder approach to shared services while protecting local decision-making. I have acted immediately in implementing one of the major recommendations to appoint an exclusive chief executive for H&F.
This brings about an immediate saving but also recognises the importance to each borough in having their own 'champion' directly accountable to elected representatives. We will be recommending to Council that Nigel Pallace be appointed as interim chief executive to replace Nicholas Holgate who returns to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Nigel will take on the duties alongside his other role as Executive Director of Transport and Technical Services for H&F.
I am grateful to Nicholas Holgate for all he has done for our borough. Further savings will be made from a review of senior management cost. I am also waiting on Deloitte, which were appointed to support the review, to report back early next week on an additional £1million of savings that has not already been identified by H&F's officers.
This landmark report lays the foundations for the future of shared services, not just at H&F, but for all local authorities who are all facing tough financial circumstances. It recommends that shared services should not be about the creation of exclusive entities, in this case 'tri-borough', which threaten local decision-making and accountability. It should be about sharing with as many boroughs as possible to deliver greater savings while retaining the ability for local councillors to set their own specification and standards. This goes to the heart of each borough being able to fulfil its own democratic mandate.
I am grateful to each of the London boroughs of Camden, Hackney and Lambeth for their co-operation, and to our partners in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council for sharing important information and co-operating with this review.
Read the press release:
West London shared council services must be more responsive to residents and open to others, says Lord Adonis