500 Jobs to Go in Council Merger Plan

H&F Chief Exec Geoff Alltimes to step down

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L-R: Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh (Leader of H&F Council), Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell (Leader of RBKC), Cllr Colin Barrow (Leader of WCC) and Eric Pickles MP (Communities Secretary)

Hammersmith and Fulham Council

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council has published proposals to combine its services with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council in a move to cut costs in half.

The plans, which the council says will save at least £35 million will mean the loss of 500 jobs across the councils, including that of H&F Council Chief Executive Geoff Alltimes.

The "Tri-borough" councils say they have signed a "Sovereignty Guarantee" which will safeguard local autonomy, responsiveness and identity.

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of H&F Council denied the three are creating a "super council". He said: " We are creating three slimmer councils with combined resources and expertise.

" Our residents should not notice the difference except in areas such as adult social care where there will be a marked improvement because we are able to fully integrate health and social care."

Each of the councils will retain their own councillors and decision making processes, and they say services key to local areas, such as housing management, licensing and planning will be not be combined.

The proposals will be discussed at the councils' respective cabinets over the next 12 days, starting with H&F’s Cabinet on Wednesday February 16. They recommend:

Reducing chief executive posts from three to two
Combining children’s and education services with a single director
Combined adult social care with a single director in charge of commissioning services. Discussions are underway with Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust about working closely with GPs in providing integrated community health and adult social care services across the three areas.
Combined corporate overheads, including IT and HR.
Combined facilities management and dangerous structures services.
Other combined environmental services, initially across two boroughs in some cases, including leisure, highways, transport and parking correspondence. The three cabinets are recommended to look at moving towards a single management team for the environment family of services in the future.

Geoff Alltimes, Chief Executive of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, intends to stand down in October 2011. If the Tri-borough proposals are agreed, H&F Council intends to ask RBKC Chief Executive Derek Myers to lead the two authorities as part of a long-term interim arrangement, although this will be subject to H&F Council appointment processes.

Acccording to recent research by the Green Party, Mr Alltimes is currently earning £218,830 a year in salary plus benefits. This is 11% higher than the average for borough council bosses and more than the Prime Minister is paid.

The councils' joint plans do not stop with these proposals. They say services under consideration for future integration include customer services, waste management, street cleaning, contingency planning, CCTV, environmental health and parks management.

If the proposals are agreed by the three respective cabinets, the councils say detailed implementation proposals will be drawn up over the next few months and will be subject to full consultation and involvement with residents, staff, unions and community leaders.

The implementation of proposals will be phased and carefully planned from May 2011 with long term interim appointments in key areas to provide continuity during a period of change.



February 9, 2011