Wandsworth and Richmond Councils have announced a new single senior management team – the first major step in their plans for a shared workforce serving both boroughs.
The “smaller and leaner” top team will be jointly employed by both councils and be managed by a single chief executive. This is expected to deliver savings of around £1.5m a year by reducing senior posts by 30 per cent.
Under the proposals, the two councils would be managed by a single chief executive, Paul Martin, who currently holds that post in Wandsworth.
He would be supported by a new deputy chief executive director of resources Mark Maidment, who currently serves as Richmond’s director of finance and corporate services.
This new streamlined senior executive team would be fully implemented following the retirement of Gillian Norton, Richmond’s chief executive in September 2016 and Chris Buss, Wandsworth’s deputy chief executive and director of finance in March 2017.
It is hoped that the proposal will receive the backing of councillors in both boroughs when they meet to discuss the plans later this month.
The creation of a single workforce serving both authorities is a key element of plans published by both councils earlier this year. The councils say that the ultimate goal of a joint workforce could save up to £10m a year.
The Leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, said: “Today’s key announcement marks the first major milestone in our joint plans to deliver greater efficiencies and significant cost savings to our taxpayers.”
The Leader of Richmond Council, Lord True, said: “We have already made savings of £30m over the past four years; we know we need to make further major savings in the period to 2018.
“We have now agreed with Wandsworth a proposed approach with a shared officer structure from chief executive down. I am grateful for Wandsworth’s positive and open approach to partnership. We are confident that this structure will enable us to make the savings we need – whilst protecting each borough’s sovereignty. Our prime purpose is to deliver the services that local people need and want.”
The Minister for Local Government, Marcus Jones, said: “This is a really positive move by Wandsworth and Richmond. These can-do councils show there really is a way to reduce costs without reducing frontline services and sensibly merging operations without losing the local identity of each authority. I look forward to seeing how these plans develop and what other councils can learn from them”
Both councils will continue to be separate sovereign bodies with their own elected councillors, cabinets and leaders. They will each maintain their own identities and retain the ability to develop policies and priorities that might differ.
In February 2015, the Government backed south west London’s sharing plans with £3m from its “Transformation Challenge Awards” which supports innovations that improve and protect public services and reduce the cost to taxpayers.