London boroughs study 'super council' merger

Radical proposals to create the UK's first 'super council' were revealed today.

The London boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea said all their services could be merged to generate savings of between £50m and £100m a year.



Every service from chief executive and senior directors to street cleaners and social workers could be shared, they said, in a joint statement.



Under the plans, each authority would keep its council leaders and local ward councillors.



The size of the new authority could be bigger than Glasgow or Leeds, they said.



The leaders of the three councils - Colin Barrow from Westminster, Stephen Greenhalgh from Hammersmith & Fulham and Sir Merrick Cockell, from Kensington & Chelsea - said that with cuts in central government spending to reduce the national deficit, their priority was to protect front-line services.



They said: "Ensuring we can provide a high standard of local services in today's tough economic climate means thinking differently about how we operate, concentrating on what's important to the people we serve and ensuring we continue to care for the most vulnerable in our communities.



"To achieve this in the age of austerity we need to seriously examine new ways of working including sharing service provision with other local authorities to deliver more for less.



"That is why we have met and agreed to progress to plans to share every council service between our three councils. This may include merging services to reduce duplication and drive out needless cost.



"While we won't rule anything out at this stage, we expect to focus quite quickly on a few major areas where sharing and merging services is viable and good for the public."



Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham are already working to merge their children's services department which will create savings of £2.5million a year for each authority, they said.



The three councils said they would now look to merge their adults' services departments.



The authorities said they had tasked their chief executives to examine the proposals in more detail before reporting back formally early next year.



The statement said: "In the coming weeks we will set up a series of working groups to develop and study options for three main areas: environmental services, family services and corporate services.



"Our chief executives will report in February next year with recommendations for action before we then consider the next steps, while our staff and our partners will be fully consulted at every stage, with public engagement when firm plans emerge."



The statement added: "Our plans may be the first of their kind, but sharing of services in this way can no longer be viewed as a radical concept. It will soon become the norm for local authorities looking for innovative ways to keep costs down while delivering high quality front line services."



Mr Greenhalgh told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there would be "significant reductions in staff".



"Clearly if you have less money to spend you are not going to be able to safeguard every job and we are going to see significant reductions in staff but this is about squeezing every penny, every pound, to protect frontline services," he said.



"There is a lot of bureaucracy involved with delivering local services: in adult social care, we often find that of the three pounds we spend, one pound is spent deciding what to do with the other two.



"This is about minimising that overhead and we still have political sovereignty, still have the ability to choose how we spend the money locally. What we are doing is ensuring that as much as possible goes to the frontline.



"We are not talking about merging the frontline so it is ubiquitous and just a homogenous entity; we are going to commission those services and take into account the political differences that exist."



But he said cuts to frontline jobs could not be ruled out.



"There may well be because every year we are looking at more efficient ways of delivering those services."



Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: "These councils are leading the way in local government and voters will expect others to get on board and follow suit.



"This is exactly the sort of innovation that will help councils to protect hardworking families and the most vulnerable.



"By sharing back-office services, they'll be able to protect the frontline - and even improve the choice and services that's on offer to local residents.



"We're supporting these sorts of moves by giving unprecedented freedom and flexibility to councils to make their own choices, funding a council tax freeze, and calling time on the bureaucratic red tape and pointless form-filling that has hampered councils for so long.



"Sharing services is just one of the options open to councils to ensure they are making the most of every pound they have - alongside moves to become more transparent, improve procurement and cut out waste."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
David Silva strokes home his and City's second goal
football
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas