Shared Council Services Must be More Open and Responsive

Improvements recommended by Critical Friends Board

Related links

Critical Friends Board's Tri-Borough Review Executive Summary

Tri-Borough Review Full Report

Statement from Council Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan


Sign up for an email newsletter from:, and


A new independent board chaired by Lord Adonis has recommended improvements in the way Hammersmith & Fulham shares services with Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster councils.

The Critical Friends Board appointed by Hammersmith and Fulham’s new Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan was asked to test the quality and effectiveness of existing shared services among the three councils, often referred to as the "tri-borough" and to explore the potential to widen arrangements between them.

Lord Adonis says: " 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 adds: " Building on the tri-borough 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."

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.

Along with Lord Adonis, the Critical Friends Board also included Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics and Deborah Lincoln, Senior Vice President at Warner Brothers.

Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan says: " 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 'tri-borough’ 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."


November 5, 2014