Merton And Richmond Councils Merge Legal Teams

Six month money-saving trial could become permanent

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Merton council is merging its legal and electoral team with Richmond council, in a trial move which will give both significant savings and could beecome permanent.

Merton’s current Head of Civic and Legal Services, Helen White, will join Richmond as Interim Head of Legal and Electoral Services from August 1, and her remit will include developing proposals on a fully shared service.

Both councils are a similar size and share a similar workload in the area. It's anticipated the trial could become permanent, subject to the normal decision-making processes.

Helen White (left) said: "I am delighted to be taking on this opportunity. There are many positive outcomes to be gained from working in partnership and I am sure bringing these two teams together will help create the most efficient way of working."

Councillor Mark Allison, Merton Council cabinet member for finance said: "We are constantly on the lookout for innovative new ways to improve our service and cut costs, and Helen's appointment will give Merton and Richmond six months to look at all the options available, including a shared legal service.

"If all goes well, that would mean we could call on specialist legal expertise from Richmond, and vice versa, rather than having to employ more expensive lawyers elsewhere, which could help both councils make significant savings. 

“Irrespective of the cuts being put upon us by Government, this is the sort of sensible good practice we are looking to introduce to make the council more efficient and effective for residents and we may see more of it in the future."

July 16, 2010