Radical proposals to create the UK’s first ‘super council’ have been revealed.
The London boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea said all their services could be merged to generate savings of between £50m and £100m a year.
Every service from chief executive and senior directors to street cleaners and social workers could be shared, they said, in a joint statement.
Under the plans, each authority would keep its council leaders and local ward councillors.
The size of the new authority could be bigger than Glasgow or Leeds, they said.
LGC reported in August that the three boroughs were investigating the possibility of sharing services and a chief executive.
The leaders of the three councils - Colin Barrow (Con) from Westminster, Stephen Greenhalgh (Con) from Hammersmith & Fulham and Sir Merrick Cockell (Con), from Kensington & Chelsea - said that with cuts in central government spending to reduce the national deficit, their priority was to protect front-line services.
They said: “Ensuring we can provide a high standard of local services in today’s tough economic climate means thinking differently about how we operate, concentrating on what’s important to the people we serve and ensuring we continue to care for the most vulnerable in our communities.
“To achieve this in the age of austerity we need to seriously examine new ways of working including sharing service provision with other local authorities to deliver more for less.
“That is why we have met and agreed to progress to plans to share every council service between our three councils. This may include merging services to reduce duplication and drive out needless cost.
“While we won’t rule anything out at this stage, we expect to focus quite quickly on a few major areas where sharing and merging services is viable and good for the public.”
Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham are already working to merge their children’s services department which will create savings of £2.5m a year for each authority, they said.
The three councils said they would now look to merge their adults’ services departments.
The authorities said they had tasked their chief executives to examine the proposals in more detail before reporting back formally early next year.
The statement said: “In the coming weeks we will set up a series of working groups to develop and study options for three main areas: environmental services, family services and corporate services.
“Our chief executives will report in February next year with recommendations for action before we then consider the next steps, while our staff and our partners will be fully consulted at every stage, with public engagement when firm plans emerge.”
The statement added: “Our plans may be the first of their kind, but sharing of services in this way can no longer be viewed as a radical concept. It will soon become the norm for local authorities looking for innovative ways to keep costs down while delivering high quality front line services.”