Westminster ‘super council’ plans revealed
WESTMINSTER council has announced plans to merge its services with two neighbouring boroughs to create the UK’s first ‘super council’.
A statement released today reveals plans for Westminster to share its services with Conservative-run Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea in a move they say could save between �50million and �100million a year.
Under the proposals each authority would keep its council leaders and local ward councillors, but every service from chief executives to street cleaners could be shared.
In the joint statement, council leaders Colin Barrow, Westminster, Stephen Greenhalgh, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Merrick Cockell, Kensington & Chelsea, say the plans are in response to the current “tough economic climate”.
They said: “In challenging times our priority is to protect high quality front-line public services, while preserving the democratic sovereignty of local authorities.
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“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.
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“That is why this week we have met and agreed to progress to plans to share every council service between our three councils.”
A series of working groups will be set up to look at the options for merging environmental, family and corporate services before reporting back next February.
Critics have hit back at the plans by arguing that Westminster’s jobs and services could suffer.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Westminster Labour Group, says the move could see the closure of libraries, smaller schools, leisure centres and nurseries.
“This is the biggest attack on local services ever contemplated and is a part of a plan by ideologically-driven Conservatives to cut services regardless of the personal cost to those who depend on public services – children, the vulnerable, the elderly and those on low incomes,” he said.
“At a stroke, local services in each borough that have taken years to build up will be slashed and destroyed for all time. It is criminal and residents have not even been consulted.”
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