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Hammersmith appoints 'exclusive' chief

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Hammersmith & Fulham LBC has appointed an interim chief executive with immediate effect following a recommendation contained in a review of the “tri-borough” arrangements.

Nigel Pallace has taken up the position alongside his other role as executive director of transport and technical services.

The appointment means Kensington & Chelsea RBC’s chief executive Nicholas Holgate will no longer share the role. Charlie Parker remains chief executive of Westminster City Council.

This comes on the day a review, commissioned by Hammersmith & Fulham’s Labour administration shortly after it took power in May, recommended each authority in the west London tri-borough should have its own chief executive.

The review was carried out by Labour peer Lord Andrew Adonis, professor Tony Travers from the London School of Economics, Deborah Lincoln, senior vice-president at Warner Bros and cabinet member for finance Max Schmid (Lab).

In a statement, Stephen Cowan (Lab), leader of Hammersmith & Fulham LBC, said: “The financial tsunami facing local government - H&F is being required to make £71 million of cuts by 2017-18 - requires a bigger and bolder approach to shared services while protecting local decision-making. I have acted immediately in implementing one of the major recommendations to appoint an exclusive chief executive for H&F.

“This brings about an immediate saving but also recognises the importance to each borough in having their own ‘champion’ directly accountable to elected representatives.”

Cllr Cowan said he was “grateful” to Mr Holgate “for all he has done for our borough”, and added further savings would be made from a review of senior management costs.

In a statement released before Mr Pallace’s appointment had been announced, Nick Paget-Brown (Con), leader of Kensington & Chelsea RBC, said the recommendation for Hammersmith & Fulham LBC to have its own chief executive was “not unexpected”.

The three councils entered into a tri-borough arrangement in 2010-11 and members on the ‘critical friends board’ were asked to assess the partnership.

The report said the tri-borough “lacks a cohesive vision for the future”, and suggested leaders and cabinet members from the three boroughs should have “frequent meetings”. It added the three cabinets should aim to discuss the current challenges and “reach a consensus on the future vision for collaborative working”, and decide “how joint working with other London boroughs could be more easily achieved where it will add further benefits to do so”.

Cllr Cowan said: “I hope this report marks the start of a new generation of shared services that includes the three councils but reaches across London and delivers better savings, greater value and services that work for residents.”

The review also highlighted the need for the authorities to improve their “commercial capabilities”.

The review acknowledged the tri-borough arrangement had “delivered benefits” for Hammersmith & Fulham LBC and said “further benefits” were “in train for the future”.

The partnership is projected to save £46.5m across the three boroughs by 2015-16.

Philippa Roe (Con), leader of Westminster City Council, said: “I had hoped that the report might go further to suggest some bold new ideas for the future of public services, however it seems to have focused more around the edges of our current arrangements. We already have plans in place to deal with many of the issues raised and I am pleased we can now get on and deliver these.”

Speaking about the review in general, Cllr Paget-Brown said: “It’s perhaps no surprise to find we have some opportunities for fine tuning, but the basic model is sound.”

Photo by George Rex

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