24 March 2010

Lambeth to pioneer joint working with Southwark to save money and safeguard services

Lambeth's Labour leadership have pledged, if re-elected, to work closely with neighbouring borough Southwark to look at ways in which the two boroughs could deliver services together to save residents money if Labour wins control of both boroughs in the London elections on 6 May 2010.

Councillor Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council, and Councillor Peter John, Leader of Southwark’s Labour Councillors, will offer residents better value for money by sharing management costs and merging some services across both councils.

Residents in Vassall Ward which has a border with Southwark will also benefit from more consistent services whichever side of the border they live on. Lambeth is currently run by Labour while Southwark is run by a struggling Lib Dem-Tory coalition, but both boroughs have similar sized populations facing very similar problems.

If they win the elections on 6 May, Councillor Reed and Councillor John will bring senior managers from both councils together in a summit to identify areas where closer working will benefit residents and save money. The savings could run into millions of pounds at a time when the government is expected to cut funding to local councils. The new initiative would help protect services from cuts as a result.

Councillor Steve Reed said: “Lambeth and Southwark councils both provide many services that are identical, but do we really need to pay twice for separate sets of senior management and back-office support? By merging some services we can save money to reinvest in the frontline, protecting services and helping keep council tax down.”

Councillor Peter John said: “Labour is all about quality services. In Southwark, we’ve seen the Lib Dems and Tories drive service standards down. By working more closely with neighbouring councils like Lambeth we can guarantee better services that cost less, and that means a better deal for local people.”

Vassall Ward Labour Councillor Kingsley Abrams added "this initiative is especially relevant to Vassall Ward where we are on the edge of Lambeth and roads such as Flodden Road, Denmark Road and Camberwell New Road are split between Lambeth and Southwark. I, like I'm sure most residents of the Ward, cross the border regularly in my day to day business so it seems silly to duplicate services. This initiative will bring the best of Lambeth together with the best of Southwark to save costs and safeguard the delivery of quality services."

Areas which have already been identified for savings include
  • Sharing senior management posts across both councils, including service directors, street care management and highways management - potentially saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  • Joint contracts for services like parking, where costs would be cut and residents in cross-border areas would benefit from a more consistent service
  • Joint regeneration and economic development teams – benefiting areas like the South Bank and Camberwell which are in both boroughs.
  • Shared school support services, with Lambeth’s better-rated team expanding to cover Southwark, and similar arrangements for other services where one council is currently performing better than the other.