Merton's Legal Team To Merge With Other Councils

Move will save £600,000 over four years

The legal services of Merton council is merging with three other London boroughs to save £600,000 over four years.

In a first for local government in the UK, the legal services of Merton, Kingston, Sutton and Richmond Councils will become one team.

The councils say it will save £600,000 between the councils during the next four years while providing each borough with a substantially increased pool of legal expertise, reducing the need to instruct outside lawyers. Moving the legal team into one location will also mean fewer office overheads and greater efficiency.

Merton Council leader Stephen Alambritis said: "We are the first to share legal services in this way across four boroughs. The success of Merton and Richmond's shared legal services since 2011 has proved that joining forces with other boroughs can make a positive difference in providing a quality in-house legal service while making significant financial savings. We are looking forward to working with our colleagues in Richmond, Kingston and Sutton and to making the legal services for all four boroughs resilient and robust.”

Deputy Leader of Richmond Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources Councillor Geoffrey Samuel said: "Richmond and Merton established a shared legal service in September 2011 which has since proved a success, achieving savings of between 16–20% and a high percentage of internal customers surveyed reporting that service quality has improved.

"Additionally, the service has streamlined processes, increased transparency and reduced external legal costs. We'd also expect any transition process and future partnership would continue to improve the effective provision of legal advice and support, improve customer satisfaction and client care."

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March 3, 2013