Yesterday the ConservativeHome blog published this piece from me. It looks at the savings that our council will have to make in the
context of overall council spending and suggests that the terms and conditions under which the council employs people will be a fruitful source of savings over the next four years, don’t forget we have a lot of time.
Today’s news that Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham are looking to merge all of their services shows the way to another fruitful source of savings that will not impact the frontline. This will, it is reported save £50 million to £100 million across the three councils. Ealing is already a big council, over 300,000 people and the 2nd biggest in London. This new super-borough would be almost twice as big as Ealing and effectively the third largest city in England after Birmingham and Leeds, just ahead of Sheffield. Whilst it may not be appropriate to merge our already large council with one or more of our neighbours there are huge opportunities to share services with other boroughs.
All we have heard from our council so far is lots of attempts to blame Gordon Brown’s structural deficit on the banks and Tories and this rather desultory list of £5.265 million cheese paring savings and service charge increases. One third of these “savings” are increases in charges (mainly parking but others too). I do hope we see something a bit more imaginative and strategic soon.