West London shared council services must be more responsive to residents and open to others, says Lord Adonis

Critical Friends Board tri-borough review executive summary (pdf 205KB)

Critical Friends Board tri-borough review full report (pdf 1.88MB)

An independent board chaired by Lord Adonis has recommended improvements in how Hammersmith & Fulham shares services with Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster councils.

Lord Adonis said, “Massive cuts in funding pose a huge challenge to local government. Shared working among councils is important and it should continue in West London. However, the tri-borough arrangements needs to be improved to promote leaner management and stronger accountability.

He added, “Building on the triborough arrangement, it should also be possible for other councils to share services with the three West London councils to promote further efficiency, provided this does not jeopardise the gains already achieved.”

“It is important that the sovereignty of the individual boroughs be respected. We recommend that each of the boroughs appoints its own chief executive to ensure the best possible value for money in future joint working.”
Lord Adonis chaired a Critical Friends Board appointed by Hammersmith and Fulham’s new Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan. The board also included Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics and Deborah Lincoln, Senior Vice President at Warner Brothers.

Cllr Cowan commented: “I am extremely grateful that Lord Adonis, Professor Travers and Deborah Lincoln freely gave their time to produce this important report.

“I welcome its practical recommendations, which will help us deal with record government cuts while maintaining good quality services for residents.

“Sharing services with more councils could save us money and exchange good practice. We don’t want others to be put off because they think Hammersmith & Fulham belongs to a closed and exclusive ‘triborough’ arrangement. I hope this report marks the start of a new generation of shared services that includes the three Councils but reaches across London and delivers better savings, greater value and services that work for residents.

“The Board also recommends having a leaner senior management structure to free up resources for front-line services, and it calls for important new safeguards to the individual democratic mandates of each Council. We will deliver that.”

Statement from Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council

Notes to editors

  1. The Critical Friends Board was asked to test the quality and effectiveness of existing shared services among the LBHF, RBKC and Westminster councils, often referred to as the “tri-borough”, and to explore the potential to widen arrangements beyond these three authorities.
  2. The review explored:
    - the quality and efficiency of shared service delivery
    - areas of work that could be shared with other public bodies and organisations not covered by the tri-borough
    - current restructuring arrangements to see if there were better ways of working, and
    - the scope and effectiveness of political mechanisms under bi- and tri-borough working.
  3. The tri-borough arrangements were launched in 2010. Under them, the three councils share back office and management across children's services, adult social care, library services and public health. H&F also works with RBKC on a bi-borough basis for environment, leisure, residents services, transport and technical services.
  4. Due to central government cuts, H&F Council faces a budget gap of £71m by 2018/19.
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