An independent board chaired by Lord Adonis has recommended improvements in how Hammersmith & Fulham shares services with Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster councils.
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 said: “I welcome (the Board’s) 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.”
Lord Adonis said, “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.”
In a further statement, Cllr Cowan added: “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.
“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.”
“I have acted immediately in implementing one of the major recommendations to appoint an exclusive chief executive for H&F.”
Cllr Cowan said he would be recommending that Nigel Pallace be appointed as interim chief executive alongside his other LBHF role as Executive Director of Transport and Technical Services.