A bold plan to share expertise is set to reduce the cost of council communications across two of London’s leading local authorities.
Councillors from Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Councils are considering a ‘cooperation agreement’ that would see joint communications management across the two flagship authorities as well as more shared campaigns.
This innovative new way of working is expected to save taxpayers money in reduced management costs.
The arrangement would see Hammersmith & Fulham Council provide senior management communication support to Wandsworth. The two councils already have a strong history of joint working – most notably on the successful 2M Campaign against a third runway at Heathrow Airport.
Cllr Edward Lister, Wandsworth Council Leader, says:
“This exciting and innovative proposal would deliver high-level communications management at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible. In the short term there will be an injection of new ideas and access to additional resources. In the longer term there is scope for even greater joint working on major campaigns.”
November’s Comprehensive Spending Review saw local government funding reduced by 28 per cent, as part of the Government’s plans to reduce Britain’s record budget deficit, and the two councils need to save around £120 million over the next three years.
H&F Council has already announced plans with Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea councils to look at sharing a range of other services – including adult social care and children’s, environmental and corporate services – in a bid to avoid reducing frontline services.
H&F Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh says:
"We are challenging the old thinking that says every council needs to do everything on its own. Wandsworth is very similar to us in that we both have small communication teams with the same structures. Taxpayers have a right to know what we are spending their money on but if we can reduce communications costs further by sharing expertise we must do it."
If agreed at a Wandsworth Council meeting on January 31, H&F Council’s Assistant Director for Communications and Policy, Simon Jones, and Corporate Communications Manager, Louise Raisey, will start working in Wandsworth for a joint total of four days a week from April 1, 2011. They will manage the Wandsworth media team and provide support to the graphics and print unit as well as having responsibility for staffing, budgets, target-setting and performance management.
Wandsworth Council has set lowest council tax in the UK for the past 20 years. H&F was judged by the LGC Awards to be Britain’s best local authority in 2010.