The ABC of Hammersmith & Fulham’s Spending Review
An interview with Stephen Greenhalgh, leader of the Council
With the central government’s decision to cut what it sees as superfluous costs, all London boroughs are facing the prospect of reducing costs by at least a quarter of current spend. At HammersmithToday.co.uk, we wanted to investigate what this meant for the borough.
The leader of the conservative led Council; Stephen Greenhalgh outlined to us what he calls “the ABC of the spending reviews” and his four-year vision for the Council.
Asset management includes a review of all the buildings owned and financed by local government whether it is the town hall, libraries or social housing and to ask the tough question – can we afford to pay for this or should we return the savings to central government either by controlling the local budget, reducing costs or even selling the assets and improving the balance sheet.
Under budgetary controls, the Council is scrutinizing the underlying cost structures, overheads, unit costs and looking at commercializing or privatising some services where costs have become onerous.
Cost reductions on key overheads are a vital part of the budgetary controls programme.
Part of this plan to revitalize business in the Borough is to re-develop King Street and open up space for commercial office space, housing and new shops.
These include opening the bidding process to competition and offering the developers a commercial incentive to regenerate the area, he said. However, this is a much debated strategy. Over 400 local residents met at the local Methodist Church in Hammersmith to block these plans.
The key objections that were raised were:
Responding to the key objections from residents and special interest groups, the Councillor said that the environmental concerns, if there were valid, would be handled by the Environmental Agency and that the Conservative government’s re-development plans were not vastly different from the original plans proposed by the previous Labour government.
“We are adding two and a half floors to the original plan and not much more,” the Councillor said, adding: “What we should focus on is the benefits to the community.”
He emphasized: “What we are not cutting is quality, only costs. Our front-line services on crime prevention, improving education and services to local residents still remain important.”
November 10, 2010