Super Borough Plans Under Scrutiny

Local MP defends decision as 'an exciting venture'

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Radical cost-cutting plans to merge parts of Hammersmith and Fulham Council with two neighbouring authorities have met with a mixed response in the borough.

Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh announced last week that Hammersmith and Fulham will consider sharing all departments with Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster Councils, stripping out middle managers and back office staff and saving up to £100 million over four years.

Education and children's services, adult social care, environment departments and corporate services could all be pooled or outsourced, and Mr Greenhalgh vowed to 'squeeze every penny and every pound' by looking at all other possible savings.

The move – the first on this scale anywhere in the UK – comes in response to the government's comprehensive spending review, in which funding for local councils was cut by 28 per cent. At least 700 jobs are expected to go as Hammersmith and Fulham tries to save £28 million over the next financial year.

The plans were welcomed by Conservative Chelsea and Fulham MP, Greg Hands, whose new constituency straddles two of the boroughs in his November newsletter.

He said: "We all need to see government at all levels delivering more services with less money, so the proposed cooperation agreement is an exciting venture. All three councils have an excellent reputation for good financial management and all get top ratings for the quality of their services, so I think residents can be optimistic that the new teamwork will give real gains to the citizens of all three boroughs."

November 10, 2010