Westminster City Council and Kensington and Chelsea have served notice on the Tri-borough arrangements with Hammersmith & Fulham Council that were established in June 2011 to drive savings and public service reform for the three London boroughs.
Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea say they have”reluctantly” decided to serve the notice “in the face of uncertainty caused by … Hammersmith and Fulham, appearing to make alternative in-house plans without any formal engagement with the other two local authority partners about key services”.
The services shared included Children’s Services, Adult Social Care and Public Health Services, but had been expected to expand its remit.
Westminster Council say that in addition to service improvements, the arrangement has generated a saving of £43m.
The Leader of Westminster City Council, Cllr Nickie Aiken, said: “We would not have chosen to end the Tri-borough arrangements which we believe have been a great success. When it was established in 2011 it was quite rightly lauded as an innovation in local authority service delivery. With extremely talented and hard-working staff, Its track record speaks for itself with successes in children’s services, school attainment results and youth offending services to name but a few, combined with £43m of estimated savings.”
“However, both the Leader of Kensington and Chelsea and I feel we are unable to continue with tri-borough when we have a partner that we do not believe is committed to it as we are and appears to be making their own plans to leave, without any formal discussions.”
Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader Stephen Cowan responded by saying: “We’ve had concerns for some time about the value of the ‘tri-borough’, its lack of transparency and its built-in conflicts of interest.
“In our last two budgets, Hammersmith & Fulham Council found £31 million in savings but the ‘tri-borough’ contributed no more than £200,000 of that, less than one per cent.
“Problems with ‘tri-borough’ contracts, procured by Westminster City Council, have cost Hammersmith & Fulham over £5 million, including the botched contract for special needs transport that put our disabled children at risk.
“Triggering withdrawal is evidently a long-planned move by the two councils. I look forward to having sensible discussions with them about how we can all move on in the best way for our residents.”