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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Policy Confidential

Hornet has come across a paper, "Options for saving overhead costs by merged or collaborative arrangements across the three boroughs." Which, loosely translated means how can we save money when the Super London Borough of Royal Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham is created a bit later on....

Twelve pages long, it seems to be a collaborative piece by so many people. Never in the field of human contributions has so much been done by so many for so few. Over 100 staff have been busying ferreting away in the town halls looking at options for integration benefits.

Basically the thrust of the report suggests that only if budgetary savings can be made will the three boroughs continue down the road to the anschluss. The secret paper makes the point that the three senior teams in the boroughs unanimously agree there is enough evidence of a "collaboration dividend" to continue. However, it is clear the savings will only be realised in savings; a big bang approach is too risky and the costs of IT integration could look significant.

Now that got Hornet kind of wondering...

In the private sector, change of this nature needs to be much more directive because "the talkers" primary concern is to preserve jobs and empires. Also, the Leaders who drive though this kind of change need to be different from the old - it is a new skill set.

The biggest indicated savings are IT (up to £30 million). Nice in theory but in practise important to run the old systems in parallel until the new ones are proven. Responsible implementation will not produce quick savings.

The huge scope is to tackle the profligate spending immediately. This will be resisted because it is all pet projects. Exhibition Road, North Ken Academy and so on.

Also, the asset register shows that K&C has £billions in the books (car parks, buildings, parks etc). On a different scale to Hammersmith and, probably, Westminster. An alternative approach could be to sweat these assets (sale, lease back, outright sale, mortgage etc).

It doesnt take a genius to work out that if you have three boroughs, one of which was a different shade of political colour for many many years, it is reasonable to expect they are running different IT systems. It is fair to assume that each borough on its own, doesnt have the resources to safely encapsulate one of the other two, let alone both, at the drop of a hat. The report says the three boroughs collectively use over 150 business systems with very little overlap. Nice.

Likewise, with each borough standing as they are, on their own, they dont enter into contracts with private or public sector service providers with an eye on in the future decision to merge with a neighbour. The price refuse disposal experts give Westminster is based on Westminster, and the contract was signed X number of years ago and runs until 2000-and something. You cant just rock up to the offices of Veolia and say "er, from next Monday do you mind running up the Cromwell Road to Hammersmith and do them aswell". Well, they could ask but Mr Veolia isnt really going to give a printable response.

So exactly where does the proposed millions of savings come from?


By adopting a shared management scheme, combined library service with the same (or nearly the same) number of sites, but remodelled staffing. Combined parking services and substituting parking patrols for more use of cameras. Remodelling staffing and management in Environmental Health, Highways and Transport. Integrating and outsourcing culture and leisure, sharing park constabulary, cemetary management and so on.

Corporate Services

Centralising financial services, outsourcing a joint Revenue and Benefits Service, and outsourcing IT to staff located outside of London. 

Adult Social Care & Childrens services

Containing the significant demographic pressures in future years, reducing duplication and managing dependency better. Merging assessment, provision and procurement across the spectrum are all areas under consideration.

Of course with a super borough we wont need three Town Clerks or Chief Executives, maybe just one and a deputy? Oh to be in the civil service pension pot....


  1. As usual Miss Hornet makes salient point of such perception that it astonishes ordinary readers like me that we never get a response from Dear Leader of his acolytes.
    The only miserable attempts at dialogue we get are from Lofty Palmer-though he has been quiet of late,Boyo Moylan, the famous Cheesecake Eater, with puerile observations and Buffy Buckmaster begging to feature in Westenders-or so Miss Hornet tells us.
    Come on cllrs. You don't need Dear Leader's permission do you? Or maybe scared to lose your SRA...

  2. Why should we contribute to people who hide behind anonymity

    David Cameron


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