Richmond upon Thames Borough Council has walked away from a plan to share services with Kingston-Upon-Thames Royal Borough Council. It appears that the governance issues, that UNISON frequently highlights as a problem in these deals could not be resolved despite 6 months of talks. Richmond is now moving to merge staffing structures with Wandsworth Borough Council.
The new plan starts with merging management structures, saving money through cutting senior posts then moving towards a single staffing structure by 2017. Richmond’s chief executive retires next year and the Wansdworth chief executive would then head up both councils. The plan includes joint commissioning of services. Curiously the figure given for savings in the local government chronicle is only £10m which doesn’t seem much given the disruption and the size of the cuts in budgets overall.
The plans have yet to go to the elected members and they claim that the job cut figures have yet to be worked through. The claim that residents will enjoy the same levels of key services also seems shall we say optimistic. If governance issues were impossible to resolve with Richmond it will be interesting to see how they can be resolved with 2 sets of councillors and only one set of staff.