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Tri-borough partners 'review' education merger

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London’s tri-borough-merger councils insist they are still on course to save £35m over the next three years but have placed proposals for a shared education service “under review”.

The details have emerged in the latest cabinet updates for Westminster City Council, Kensington & Chelsea RBC and Hammersmith & Fulham LBC.

Councillors have been told that the three authorities have now “reached a consensus” on creating a shared adoption and fostering service, youth offending service arrangements, and on a shared Local Safeguarding Children Board, expected to save £1.9m over three years.

But they were warned that proposals for a combined education service – which had been at the forefront of the initial merger drive – were “being further reviewed” in the light of the government’s schools policies with an update promised next month.

Anticipated savings of £11.6m in children’s services make up the biggest departmental economy from the merger proposals, with projected savings of £9.9m in the adult services programme.

Councillors were told that firm plans for the future of adult social care across the three boroughs – including integrated services with Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust – would be tabled later in the year.

However the latest update predicted services such as residential units and directly provided care services for residents were likely to be retained by a three-borough commissioning service rather than taken on by the trust.

Westminster City Council leader Colin Barrow (Con) said the merger plans were a “sensible and pragmatic” way to maintain services to residents at the same time as saving money.

The latest update also details proposals for a three-borough library service expected to save £1.4m by 2015.

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