Wandsworth and Richmond to Merge Staff

Plan would see a single structure for the two boroughs by 2017

Wandsworth and Richmond councils are planning the creation of a shared staffing arrangement which could see a single structure for the two boroughs by March 2017.

They claim that the move could save taxpayers up to £10 million a year in both areas. There is no indication at this stage at to the number of redundancies that will result.

The two councils would be managed by a single Chief Executive, Paul Martin, currently in charge at Wandsworth, and a Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Resources - Mark Maidment, currently Richmond’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services. This proposed new structure would be fully implemented following the retirement of Gillian Norton, Richmond’s Chief Executive, and Chris Buss, Wandsworth’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance.

Mr Martin is already one of the highest paid council officers in the country getting £230,440 in pay and bonuses plus pension contributions in 2012/3. His pay will not be increased as a resutl of his additional responsibilities.

In the longer term it is believed there would be opportunities for further savings to reduce overheads, for example, getting better deals from suppliers when commissioning services.

Wandsworth and Richmond councils would continue to be separate sovereign bodies with their own elected Councillors, Cabinets and Leaders, maintaining their distinct identities and retaining the ability to develop policies and priorities that matter to their local residents. A similar arrangement currently exists between the boroughs of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham.

Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council said, “Wandsworth has taken enormous strides since 2010 to reduce its costs and protect front line services. We’ve reduced our senior management by a third, market tested services, and supported the launch of a major staff-led mutual for culture and leisure services. This has delivered savings of £90 million, but there is more to do.

“The time is now right to make further savings ‘behind the scenes’ whilst helping to ensure Wandsworth’s residents enjoy the same levels of key services as they do now.

“I very much welcome the chance to work closely with Richmond. We have in common some of the highest resident satisfaction levels in the country, top quality services and, of course, Conservative administrations.”

Richmond had previously been in talks about a similar deal with Kingston but no conclusion was reached after six months and the discussions were suspended.

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said, “We have now been able to agree with Wandsworth the proposed approach which has always been our preference – a shared officer structure from Chief Executive down. I am confident we can make the contribution to total savings we need by joining our services in this way. But crucially – do this whilst retaining our sovereignty and service standards as a borough."

He said 'painful reductions' in back office staff would be needed to meet the savings needed in the coming years.

January 23, 2015

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