Kingston and Richmond Councils to share more services

Kingston and Richmond Councils announced today that they would be sharing more services in the future to improve outcomes, reduce bureaucracy and bring significant savings for local residents.

In a joint statement, the Leaders of Kingston and Richmond Councils announced a ‘Thames Agreement’ to bring more services together that could save millions in the coming years. Depending on the extent of the collaboration each authority could save a minimum of £5million-£8million from closer working.

Councillor Kevin Davis, Leader of Kingston Council, said:

“Kingston and Richmond share many key characteristics and ambitions. We are natural partners with a shared desire to provide our residents with quality services and value for money.

“This is an exciting opportunity to change the way we organise ourselves and the way we deliver public services locally. The starting point for this agreement is that services will be shared wherever possible.

“All local authorities face challenges and this is an innovative and radical programme to streamline management, increase the resilience in our frontline services and bring significant savings and efficiencies across the two boroughs.

“Saving money is central to our work but this is also a genuine opportunity to change and develop services to achieve better services and better outcomes for residents in Kingston and Richmond.”

Kingston and Richmond have a strong track record of working well together to improve local services. We already share a number of services, including HR, Audit and legal. In addition, in 2014 we launched Achieving for Children, a jointly owned community interest company providing education and children’s services across our two boroughs.

Working even more closely together will enable the two boroughs to unlock greater levels of efficiency and provide greater resilience for frontline services. Further savings and efficiencies will become accessible as services are brought together and we can draw on the combined strengths of the two boroughs.

Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“The country is still borrowing some £10million an hour. No council can expect any largesse from government and local residents already contribute heavily through Council Tax. We have already made savings of £30million over the past four years, and we know we need to make significant savings in the future.

“It is our duty constantly to seek ways to deliver better and better-targeted services for the public at same or lower cost. That attention to detail that has enabled us to freeze Council Tax throughout the last council and to say with confidence that we will continue to do so until at least 2016.

“Our priority has always been to protect front line services, whilst continuing to identify transformative ways of reducing costs and improving services. That is why, although one objective of this proposal is to save taxpayers’ money, we have learnt over the past few years that through challenge come genuine opportunities to change and develop services to improve what we do and how we do it.

“Working with Kingston and jointly reviewing all our services, we believe we can further improve local services and provide greater resilience and better outcomes for the residents of both boroughs.

“Whilst the approach will look at merging staffing structures and integrating operational arrangements, it will not merge the two Councils. Both Richmond and Kingston Councils will continue to be separate sovereign bodies which define the particular policies and programmes they want to deliver.

“I would like to thank Kingston Council in joining us in this initiative and look forward to deepening our already existing alliance with our sister borough.”

The next steps are that the two councils will set up a Programme Management Board to design a framework for the future. In early 2015 our joint proposals will be published in detail to include projected cost savings and consultation arrangements.

The sovereignty of each borough will be retained regardless of the level of collaboration across the two boroughs. The heritage and sovereignty of each borough will be fully protected under this initiative to provide financial savings, service resilience and back room efficiencies.