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Are super-councils the way forward?

09:13 UK time, Friday, 22 October 2010

Three Conservative London councils are making plans to merge all their services and create the UK's first "super-council". Will this harm local democracy?

The three councils, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster, say the planned merger could save up to £100m a year.

Under the merger, each authority would keep its political identity with its own elected leaders and councillors. However, critics say a wholesale merger would damage the local provision of services and standards would fall with fewer staff having to cover a bigger area.

Will super-councils keep costs down but risk the delivering quality services? Would you like to see your council merge to keep costs down? Will the planned merger harm local democracy?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    Any moves which definitely save money without harming necessary services and which does not put more "expenses and allowances" into corrupt politicians pockets should be welcomed. The devil is in the detail.

  • Comment number 2.

    The question is what administrative economies will be made and how many redundancies, otherwise it is an absolute waste of time and money.

  • Comment number 3.

    A better approach would be to abolish 2 of the councils and transfer the work load to another.

  • Comment number 4.

    As long as the head of the super council is controlled and elected by the public. Ensuring under performers can be displaced.

  • Comment number 5.

    This WILL harm local services. The Tories do not care about the needs of taxpayers - they are ideologically obssessed with cuts, and protecting their chums in the banking industry.

  • Comment number 6.

    The risk with proposals such as these is that whilst theoretically there may be savings to be made, the reality will most likely be that there will be no financial gains and services will suffer. Local government requires local knowledge, involvement and most importantly accountability. The larger a council becomes, the more all of these will suffer. Leave this alone.

  • Comment number 7.

    To be honest I am just disappointed (but not surprised) that it has taken the threat of cuts to funding for councils to finally pull their socks up and work out ways of saving money. They should have been doing this all along.

    If super councils save money and do not affect front-line services then I am all for it and hope more join in.

    As for loss of jobs, sorry, but those of us in the private sector have had to deal with job losses, salary cuts etc and as we pay the public sector wages I expect to get value for money. If there are 3 people doing 2 peoples jobs, then the extra person has to go.

  • Comment number 8.

    This idea will only be of any use if it gets rid of all the duplication there will be , in executives, clerical staff and all other staff. If the same number of people are going to be employed to deliver the same poor service, then it is a waste of time. Wages is the single biggest bill for the council taxpayer, and unless this is drastically reduced, then there is no point in merging. The same applies to councillors, there are already too many, costing too much, their numbers must be reduced; they in general are poor representatives of the people, bowing the knee to the unelected civil servants who run councils whenever they are required to do so.

  • Comment number 9.

    The way forward is to cut waste, and inefficiency. It's about time this country was given a jolt. We're going to be more competitive, and ingenious in the future because of this.

  • Comment number 10.

    to be honest, we have a maire of London and a maire of the City of London, is that not enough? I wish they would just merge all councils and let them run inder the Maire's office. What else is he for? That would save tons and might even make council tax affordable again. Why does every tiny place in London need it's own rulers and admin staff? If the whole of London would be governed udner one leader, it might even improve services as they would be able to plan them across town and for the benfit of all, rather than a few. And it would mean that rich councils with low unemployment and high house-ownership would take some of the burden of the poorer parts, making things fairer all around.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's just another way of screwing the council tax payer. The existing council chiefs are paying themselves way beyond their worth, and without the authority of the council tax payer who pays their wages. Everything the tories do is at the expense of Joe public, and usually, with one of their cronies the recipient. To summarise, keeping costs down is just a smoke screen, it's highly paid jobs for their mates at the root of it.

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes.

  • Comment number 13.

    Super Councils will require Super Watchdogs.

  • Comment number 14.

    First we are told that Nulabour's centralisation was all wrong and that small is beautiful and that everything should be done locally and closer to the people that it affects and now, presumably where it suits politically, the centralisation process is resumed. The first thing that should happen in local government is that the number of politicians drawing expenses equivalent to multiples of some working people's incomes should be massively reduced but I do not have much faith that that will ensue. It used to be that those involved in local government did it without expectation of reward or even a pennnyworth of expenses. My own grandfather when a borough councillor would take his own tea and sandwiches to meetings rather than incur a penny on the rates and this was in the era between the wars when local councils were providing swimming baths, parks, new schools, large amounts of good quality council housing, libraries as well as street cleaning and rubbish disposal and the other mundane features of life. This of course was in an era when the majority of council employees were out there doing the real work, not as today when they are driving desks, turning paper and, for real exercise, occasionally lifting a telephone receiver.

  • Comment number 15.

    There are over 400 councils in the UK. That's 400 sets of contracts to negotiate, 400 sets of web designers to pay, etc. Clearly there is a lot of duplicity in all this.

    Personally I do not mind there being that many councils, but I would have less responsiblity for each one, e.g. recycling/waste would be better done run more centrally. And the councils should have a common website template.

  • Comment number 16.

    This sounds fine and as long as the councils are run by councillors of the same political persuasion it would work. But what happens if the citizens decide to vote differently and each council has a different party in power with different priorities and agenda. Can't see that working very well. Having seperate councils and counties within the country does cost more to administer but it means we have more say in how things are done

  • Comment number 17.

    There is no reason why local democracy should suffer from councils pooling resources to improve efficiency.

    We should ask why this has not been widely introduced before, or why councils carry out duties which in some cases could be better outsourced. Purchasing services in partnership with other councils could bring better deals and reduce capital expense burdens.

    We do seem to have a problem where the non-elected part of local authorities has become a self-perpetuating body of box-tickers.

    We need imagination and drive to improve the performance of councils. It is not acceptable to simply reduce services or their quality. A ruthless examination of every activity to remove those that do not contribute is needed.

    We could do with great deal less of the touchy-feely 'wellbeing', and a great deal more attention to the basics of maintaining roads, pavements, and services to the elderly, infirm, and disabled. Councils are not there to make everybody 'happy'.

    Finally, it could be argued that the poor quality of some councillors, in all tiers of local government, is a problem. It is also difficult to see the 'cabinet' system being any more than a reduction in democracy.

  • Comment number 18.

    Super councils, super salaries for the executives and councillors and more tax. Meanwhile a decline in services.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes lets have "super councils" so far remote from what they are there for that there is no scrutiny, accountability or sensitivity. They will become a even more a law unto themselves. Even more remote from reality. The idea of a "Hub" was inspired. Its so far away from residents its hard to get to. You can't get to talk to anyone who knows anything about the subject matter being enquired about and everyone blames everyone else. The person whop does know and should ring back etc., never does. Get lots of sympathy & have a nice day though. Brilliant.

  • Comment number 20.

    Super Councils !!!! Great Idea But here in Wales we Already have a Super Council Called the Welsh Assembly
    So we presentlyhave Westminister ,Cardiff , Plus umpteen County Councils ,not to mention Euro EMP's

    WE DON"T need all those a layers of Government .
    There is ONLY around 5 million people in Wales !!! And Already over 50% workers are in the public sector.. YES FIFTY PERCENT ...
    What is needed is a North and South Assembly AND Abolish the rest ,
    accept for low cost town councils ...

    No longer in Welsh counties Do say 55,000 people need a separate county council and budget of £100,s millions !! Most of that money being spent wages and pensions leaving virtually nothing being spent on sharp end services.
    By just extending the Welsh AM would saving absolute Billions.It would stop the duplication and waste

    Those Saving could be then spent to provide services to those who actually need it and not Featherbedding .

    With location Income tax and business rate on the horizon. Wales simply can't afford to have over 50 % of it's workforce working in the public sector .
    Consider it will be the rest of the workers and business that will have to fund the present Multilayer Chaos of government in Wales.

    Is it any wonder that Inward investment is dropping, and existing business is pulling out of Wales " The writing is on the Wall "

  • Comment number 21.

    15. At 10:11am on 22 Oct 2010, Jonathan_Kelk wrote:
    There are over 400 councils in the UK. That's 400 sets of contracts to negotiate, 400 sets of web designers to pay, etc. Clearly there is a lot of duplicity in all this.

    Personally I do not mind there being that many councils, but I would have less responsiblity for each one, e.g. recycling/waste would be better done run more centrally. And the councils should have a common website template

    ==================================================================
    Quite so but dont hold your breath. Its been more than 100 years since Robert Peel and we are just getting round to thinking all police vehicles from Blackpool to Bodmin should look the same. At least the officers now tend to all look like ( and some act like) quasi military malitia where ever you might be.

  • Comment number 22.

    "5. At 09:51am on 22 Oct 2010, Beige Rage wrote:
    This WILL harm local services. The Tories do not care about the needs of taxpayers - they are ideologically obssessed with cuts, and protecting their chums in the banking industry"

    How will it affect services?

    Just a couple of points:

    1 - In the 13 years in power did Labour do anything to regulate banks tighter? No they enjoyed the revenues derived from the banks with no care for the risks or downsides, so which party was protecting the banks!!!

    2 - As for proecting chums...didn't Blair give away our tax rebate from the EU estimated to have cost the country £9.3bn; yet again Blairs backbone turned to jelly when faced with anything resembling a tough negotiation!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    Yes, they are the way forward. I have never understood why, for example, there are separate North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire councils. 3 HQs, etc when one would do the job more just as well.

    (And in case you're wondering, there is no West Ayrshire...as west of Ayrshire is the Irish Sea.)

  • Comment number 24.

    Since our own area introduced unitary councils in South Wales merging certain previous councils, I have to say the services have actually improved, keeping the good from all and getting rid of the bad. The labour council in my area of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council give much better service than the Tory council in next door City and County of Swansea. The people I work with are constantly moaning about their council.

  • Comment number 25.

    This is typical of current management thinking in Britain.

    "Hey let's merge our organisations - we can save loads of money by sacking lots of poorly paid workers and by providing worse services. But let's make sure that we keep our highly paid and highly expensed jobs!"

    I am sick to the teeth of public and private sectors caliming that mergers are good, when from personal experience (as an employee and a customer of merged companies) I know that mergers are almost always NOT good.

    In almost every case, the ONLY people that benefit from mergers are the highly paid management team (and advisors), who ensure that they come out of it better off. The lower paid workers are often sacked or made to undertake additional duties and the customers often suffer due to a decline in services and standards.

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent idea - can't think what took them so long to come up with it.

    Waste and profligacy seem to be endemic throughout the public services - it's good to see three councils finally trying to buck the trend; let's hope the rest of them follow suit. If these three can do it there's no reason why the rest of them can't.

  • Comment number 27.

    Of course super councils can work. I don't know how it will be implemented, so whether it WILL work is another matter.

    The problems come about when you try to talk to someone and because of the size of the area involved, they have no idea as to what you are talking about.

    I realise with these boroughs it is unlikely - but suppose at some future date one of them becomes Labour? Lib Dem would certainly be a possibility. If one of them suddenly drops out, where does that leave the other two?

    As long as we're not on the way back to the days of the GLC when Ken thought that all homeowners could pay for all public transport in London, and everyone could travel for nothing - imagine what the cost would be now.

    Having years ago found my area moved out of Kent and merged into a London Borough, I am still waiting to see any benefits - oh yes, the Olympic Games. Silly me.



  • Comment number 28.

    This seems to me to be more an attempt to entrench one-party rule across more and more parts of the country. Every measure this government introduces seems designed to increase social segregation, to divide communities, and to gerrymander the political system for their own ends.

  • Comment number 29.

    The problem is loss of accountability.

    If you go too far down this road, it could become problematical. When you complain about the quality of service, it would be far to easy for your local councillor to blame the "super council", and to claim that he/she has no control over the service in question.

    The solution is to have an additional tier of elected local government, to be responsible for the delivery of services when it can best be done at a "super council" level. Control by a board made up of representatives from elected councils does not work as well, because these representatives will have other agendas as well as that of making the services they are responsible for, work as well as possible.

    Higher up the scale of government, the control of the EU, by the not directly elected Council of Ministers, illustrates the deficiencies of of this system of government very well. How often do we hear that the UK government cannot do anything about a problem because of rules coming from "Brussels". If the Council of Ministers was replaced by a directly elected government, its members would not be able to use this excuse.

  • Comment number 30.

    2. At 09:45am on 22 Oct 2010, Confuciousfred wrote:
    ". . . otherwise it is an absolute waste of time and money. "

    I cannot believe that you would suggest that anything a local council would do would be an absolute waste of time and money!

    10. At 10:05am on 22 Oct 2010, Bubble Works wrote:

    "to be honest, we have a maire of London. . ."

    with a long white maine and all?!

    Apart from those keen observations, I think that this proposal is rather stretching the meaning of the word "Super". . .

  • Comment number 31.

    Are super-councils the way forward?
    No way.
    The Indians will be culled and the Chiefs will keep their cushy pay and pensions.
    As is the norm.
    We have litter pickers travelling 20 miles to do their job in our town and our council employees are travelling 20 miles the other way to pick litter in their town.
    Cloud Cuckoo land.

  • Comment number 32.

    --Will this harm local democracy?--

    lol
    What local democracy???

    Councils do what they like and local people can go whistle.
    Extorting as much cash from the local population as possible is their current policy, councils' are a business for political wide boys and nothing to do with local democracy.
    Councils really are a law unto themselves.
    Modern councils have more in common with the Clergy of 500 years ago, wielding absolute power over a captive population and extracting as much money as is legally possible.
    Oh yes...and they do a few services too...sometimes, if they can be bothered.

    The cassocks have been replaced with suits but its the same kind of people who thrive on money and power.

  • Comment number 33.

    Here in Devon a "supercouncil" (i.e. Devon unitary) council was mooted last year by the Labour government. Most of the district councils objected to it very strongly, saying it would increase not decrease costs. Once the plan was shot down early in this government, several of the councils started to merge (e.g. East Devon and South Somerset) saying it would decrease costs.

    What kind of world is this where people just make this stuff up - how can it be wrong last year and right this year?

  • Comment number 34.

    Councils need to go back to what they are there for, providing services to the public which the public pays for. They need to get away from trying to do everything from spying on us via all the CCTV cameras to telling us which nappies to use. Many services are neglected, there seems to be endless funds for warning signs that can lead to fines but no money for fixing the roads.
    Councils need a kick up the behind, its not difficult to run a business where you have guaranteed customers and guaranteed income from them. And the good people of this nation do not need advice or suggestions from them about every little aspect of life. Check out your local council propaganda magazine and you'll see what I mean.

  • Comment number 35.

    I always understood that the idea of a council was to manage the affairs of the local people, and the current government keeps on saying that things should be managed at the local level (the big society mantra and all that). If councils are amalgamated surely this defeats the object and moves local governments away from a micro to a macro area. As we all have seen bigger business doesn't necessarily give as good a service (overseas call centres and other cost savings) as does smaller business. So beware the pitfalls of arranging local government just against cost and understand the value. We are constantly being told the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  • Comment number 36.

    Financially i think this will be the way forward for councils. Whether they will be as accountable and effective as before the merger......it`s unlikely.

  • Comment number 37.

    There is a super council now DURHAM so this will not be the first and its a total disaster.
    The local offices are now just shop fronts with no powers to decide anything, it all has to go to county hall for a decision.
    The housing agency all 5 of them from the old days now operate a single web based bidding system foe housing and I have gone from 3 or 4th in the list to over 40 for every house I bid for, so much for making things easer for the public.

  • Comment number 38.

    --Here in Devon a "supercouncil" (i.e. Devon unitary) council was mooted last year by the Labour government. Most of the district councils objected to it very strongly, saying it would increase not decrease costs. Once the plan was shot down early in this government, several of the councils started to merge (e.g. East Devon and South Somerset) saying it would decrease costs.
    What kind of world is this where people just make this stuff up - how can it be wrong last year and right this year?--

    lol
    It's called LOCAL DEMOCRACY.

    A giant jobs for the boys and the girls scheme, funded by the sweat from the backs of the local population.

    In the Republic of Ireland they pay zero council tax.
    zero. nil. zippideedooda.

    The level of waste is un-believable, because most of it goes on fat wage packets, working conditions ordinary people can only fantasise about, expenses and fat pensions.
    The dribble that's left goes on services.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hardly in keeping with localising services and letting "locals" make decisions is it?

    Typical of the British system of government since the time of Alfred. The centre wants to grab all revenues and control the subjects.

    Oppositions always witter on about giving power and finance back to "locals". However, once back in office with their feet under the table, the red box, the limousine and Sir Humphrey whispering in their ear they feel the reigns of power and don't want to let go.

  • Comment number 40.

    We are in the 21st century, the material and technological expertise has progressed to unimaginable heights in less than a 100 years and yet, nowhere in the western world is there a leader that any country can look up to for inspiration. Look at our parliament, when they're not looking like nodding donkey's they're jearing like a rabble. A bunch of dead-beats many who have screwed the expense system until it bled and yet, they still haven't seen the light. The U.K. population are fed up with you all, the corruption that surrounds you, the wheeling and dealing to favour your cronies with privatisations of public assetts and jobs for the boys. Get out of bed tomorrow morning and pinch yourselves, when you're sure you are awake, listen to what the people are trying to tell you, they've had enough of you, they're not fooled by the 'we're all in it together' line. When it comes to councils you shouldn't be conjuring up new posts to fill with your cronies, you should be clearing out the high paid rubbish that's in the existing councils and get the people that are left to do an honest days work and earn their keep.

  • Comment number 41.

    A very good idea so long as they are elected by the people and only by the people, with a carefully monitored and supervised election.
    There is a situation in one of the London bouroughs where the council is corrupt and has been voted in by voters who do not exist. Unfortunately central govnment hasn't seemed fit to tackle this yet even though it is widely known that the voting was rigged. British democracy must not be abused like this.
    However, back to the original topic. Yes, it makes sense to have larger councils and thus cut the overall cost of administration. The phrase, 'economiies of scale' comes to mind.

  • Comment number 42.

    If Super councils mean the same incompetency, arrogance, money wasting and self interest but on a bigger scale then the idea is just scary.

  • Comment number 43.

    Three Conservative London councils are making plans to merge all their services and create the UK's first "super-council". Will this harm local democracy?

    The first thing to note is that these are Conservative Councils that are planning to merge, so if the merger does indeed go ahead, will it be good or bad for the Chief Executives? The departmental managing executives? The departmental managers? The departmental Office Staff? The various sections of the labour force of the councils?

    As said, these are Conservative Councils, so my educated guess, on previous Conservative Actions is as follows:

    The Chief Executives will of course deem it correct to have a nice big pay rise, their Final Salary Pensions will of course be enhanced and made Nuclear proof to prevent them being cancelled, limited or stopped, their contracts will of course be similarly nuclear proofed so should they resign/be sacked (highly unlikely), move to a different council or loose their seats, they will of course get a huge financial payoff to allow them to continue living in the Luxery to which they have become accoustomed to.
    They will also most likely get free membership of the local golf course, gentlemens clubs etc. All this will of course be paid for by redundances further down the chain and lead to a much less democratic, accountable and responsible council, it will also lead to a much more dictatorial style of council.

    The Departments Managing Executives, there may be some redundances here or maybe just possitional shifting, they will similarly get large pay rises, though maybe not Final Salary Pension Increases, their work load is unlikely to increase as secretaries and 'runners' will take care of that for them, they are more likely to be more dictatorial to the staff lower down the chain and are likely to embark on the road to cancelling existing contracts without recourse to debate or discussion, issueing new contracts to staff lower down the chain with either pay cuts, longer hours or both, or contracting out more of the work, which of course will mean lower pay and longer hours.

    The employees / contratual staff at the lower end of the chain will likely face a considerable number of redundances, those that are kept on will become far worse off, services will of course reduce significantly and the residents requiring those services will of course suffer, Being a Super-Council, and a Conservitive Super Council at that, their attitude will become bombastic, undemocratic, irrisponsible and one based on greed at the top.

    A further point to remember here is that many councils in the UK - of all parties - invested council tax payers money heavily into Iceland and other countries, most of which it seems was lost, but the question here is, just why was this money that was it seems, secretly invested in the first place? Working on the assumption that they were hoping to get a big return on this invested money, where would the returns have gone, not into services that much is evident otherwise it would not have been invested in such a clandestine way - similar to the billions that the banks supposedly lost - which I doubt they did at all.

    You have to remember that many at the top of Public and Priate Industry are still very much enjoying the luxury of 'Thatchers Chariots of Greed' otherwise known as 'The gravy Train', and no matter what cutbacks there maybe from this 'coalition', their positions are never affected on e little bit.

  • Comment number 44.

    There will always be "critics" of any measures that streamline systems, add to efficiency and remove bureaucratic nonsense and waste. That is the attitude we have adopted over the years. Sadly, we very rarely turn round and give praise for initiatives that improve systems!
    I manage training for a company that has employees in every corner of the UK. It works by being centralised. Everyone in the Company knows who is responsible and who to approach. Centralised local services could be just as effective. As long as the people know who to approach, then I don't see a problem.
    Merging our local authority with several other local authorities would not bother me in the least. If it saves money, then go for it, big time.

  • Comment number 45.

    A population of over half a million people, huge cuts in council funding, no more Audit Commission. Good luck to the people living in these 3 councils.

  • Comment number 46.

    How many of the posters on here actually read the full article?
    To amalgamate back office is a good thing IMHO. There is too much waste in councils so I think yes let them have a go and see if they can make savings.

  • Comment number 47.

    I loved the comment of a councillor from one of the London boroughs, on this morning's Today programme. Talking about the advantage of the proposed merger of services, he said..."one of the problems of local council spending is that of every three pounds of expenditure, one pound is spent deciding how the other two pounds should be spent".
    In other words, at least 33% of ratepayers' money is completely wasted.

  • Comment number 48.

    25. At 10:40am on 22 Oct 2010, daffy_b wrote:
    This is typical of current management thinking in Britain.

    "Hey let's merge our organisations - we can save loads of money by sacking lots of poorly paid workers and by providing worse services. But let's make sure that we keep our highly paid and highly expensed jobs!"

    ===================================================================

    I couldn't agree more. At a talk in Eastbourne Tony Benn once said the way to understand the NHS nowadays is to imagine the NHS as a boat race team.

    "With a crew of 1 consultant and 5 workers, the NHS narrowly lose. In order to improve they replace 4 of the workers with 4 more consultants and unsurpisingly lose by a bigger margin. The worker is then sacked for 'poor performance'."

    I can foresee this happening in the NHS, local councils, and any other public service. The lowest paid workers will be laid off and those in higher graded positions will be kept on.

    DISGUSTING. Sack the workers who do the hard, tiring and often dirty work and keep your managers and consultants who have no concept about the jobs of people whom they are in charge of. 'But I have an MA in Business Management Studies' I hear them declare....

    Could this be because it is the managers and consultants who decide who should stay and go?

    Hmm...

  • Comment number 49.

    "20. At 10:27am on 22 Oct 2010, Lord Rant wrote:
    WE DON"T need all those a layers of Government .
    There is ONLY around 5 million people in Wales !!! And Already over 50% workers are in the public sector.. YES FIFTY PERCENT ..."

    Oh, Lordy. Some people haven't got a clue.

    There are almost 3 million people in Wales, not 5 million - over inflating your figures so blatently to support your own bias is becoming a standard argument technique on these message boards.

    Also the official figures from 2008 showed that there were 28.8% of the working population employed by the public sector in Wales - not 50%. Please bear in mind that there are a significant number of retired and unemployed people in Wales so the 'real' numbers are comparable to the rest of the UK.

  • Comment number 50.

    If there is a case for merging the three councils then surely the political leaderships should be merged as well?

    Otherwise it looks very much like one rule for council employees and another for councillors?

    Would a buiness that was merging three companies hang on to three boards of directors? Surely not.

    Without the creation of a single political leadership its a recipe for infighting, division and, consequently, poorer service.

  • Comment number 51.

    In large part this agrees with what Sir Philip Green said a few weeks ago: economy of scale nearly always guarantees lower prices. By buying, say, a million wheelie bins from a supplier rather than 200,000 , 200,000 and 600,000 you should be able to negotiate a much better price for each individual.

    Anyone who thinks 'smaller' is better should come and live where I do (Nottingham). The city has its own council (funnily enough called Nottingham city council) but half of the urban area extends south of the River Trent into 'Nottinghamshire country council' territory. The city council is Labour, the county council Tory and they are completely opposed to each other transport plans etc. Worse, other authorities (city div of Notts police especially) operate in both council areas so funding is unnecessarily complex. There are several words I'd use to describe the situation but the mods won't publish them!

  • Comment number 52.

    No

    The logical and inevitable outcome would be that eventually, we have one council running the UK.

    In other words Westminster.

    As they couldn’t run a sweet shop in a school playground. I don’t think it a good idea, unless of course you are a politician, even more opportunities for corruption

  • Comment number 53.

    32. At 11:10am on 22 Oct 2010, ady wrote:
    --Will this harm local democracy?--

    lol
    What local democracy???

    Councils do what they like and local people can go whistle.
    Extorting as much cash from the local population as possible is their current policy, councils' are a business for political wide boys and nothing to do with local democracy.
    Councils really are a law unto themselves.
    Modern councils have more in common with the Clergy of 500 years ago, wielding absolute power over a captive population and extracting as much money as is legally possible.
    Oh yes...and they do a few services too...sometimes, if they can be bothered.

    The cassocks have been replaced with suits but its the same kind of people who thrive on money and power.
    -------------------------------------------------------

    Now that is the most accurate description of our ruling 'cassock wearing' theocratic councillor class I have ever come across!

    Superb!

  • Comment number 54.

    Why hasn't it happened before? Ah yes, because it would mean things being run efficiently and effectively...and of course it would mean that public sector workers would have lost their jobs and their cosy pensions. It's about time they all woke up and came into the real world. In the private sector people don't get pay rises (I've not had one for nearly four years), we live with redundancy day in day out (I've even had to apply to keep my job in the past), we don't have unions to whinge about job losses...we just get on with it. In my opinion, it's about time the fat was taken out of the public sector and they realised that life isn't meant to be cosy.

  • Comment number 55.

    "Will this harm local democracy?"

    Who cares! It should lower costs and improve efficiency.

    Now all we need to do is to get Labour councils taken over by Tory ones...

  • Comment number 56.

    In theory, this feels like a great idea to me. Before a full-scale roll out however, I think the three Councils should test the idea for its practicality in a few carefully selected service areas. I belief it will work if approached from its efficiency saving potential rather than simply trying to cut costs.

  • Comment number 57.

    #40 " nowhere in the western world is there a leader that any country can look up to for inspiration. Look at our parliament, when they're not looking like nodding donkey's they're jearing like a rabble. A bunch of dead-beats many who have screwed the expense system until it bled "

    If you're looking for decent MP's then off the top of my head I'd suggest these four (carefully chosen to represent 1 from each party plus an independent) There are a few more if you look hard who are neither dead beats nor corrupt.

    Sam Galbraith: my former MP and highly skilled brain surgeon
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Galbraith

    Patrick Mercer: one of the best colonels the Sherwood Foresters have ever had, then BBC reporter, then Tory MP relegated to the back benches by Cameron for speaking his mind (and his comments were 100% correct BTW)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Mercer

    Paddy Ashdown: former special boat services officer (and they're harder than the SAS) then served in intelligence and speaks fluent Mandarin among other languages!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_Ashdown

    Martin Bell:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Bell
    Another soldier, turned broadcaster, turned MP. You'll have problems finding any corruption allegations against him.

  • Comment number 58.

    Dosn't matter, in my experiance councils take very little notice of the electorate anyway, and they are over ruled by national government as well. In fact I am fed up of lack of accountability of politicians who only take notice of the electorate at election time and ignore us and promises they have made at all other times.

  • Comment number 59.

    What a good idea.

    Since each of these authorities probably has a chief of each department on £100k + it is obvious were the savings will come from without necessarily impacting front line services.

  • Comment number 60.

    "Local Democracy" is a euphemism for us having to pay for more politicians and more Local Govt staff. Or it is at best a myth perpetuated by politiciana and Local Govt staff to facilitate their employment.

    All we want is our bins emptied and our kids educated as cheaply as possible. We don't care about who runs the place, because we know they're all as bad and as useless as each other...

    So the less Councils there are, the less it costs us. Fine by most of us I'd think.

  • Comment number 61.

    "25. At 10:40am on 22 Oct 2010, daffy_b wrote:
    I am sick to the teeth of public and private sectors caliming that mergers are good, when from personal experience (as an employee and a customer of merged companies) I know that mergers are almost always NOT good.

    In almost every case, the ONLY people that benefit from mergers are the highly paid management team (and advisors), who ensure that they come out of it better off. The lower paid workers are often sacked or made to undertake additional duties and the customers often suffer due to a decline in services and standards."

    -------------------

    Mergers may not always be good, but if you really had any personal experience, you would know that the highest proportion of jobs lost in mergers are amongst management.

  • Comment number 62.

    So they're keeping the elected leaders and councellors but merging councils themselves? Doesn't this sound suspiciously like 3 sets of chiefs for one set of Indians?

  • Comment number 63.

    It might work, and is no doubt worth a try.

    However, the way local government has always worked is that a super council will involve bigger departments, which 'need' better paid' managers.

    If the super councils do involve 3 councils doing the work of one, with corresponding cuts in staff numbers, fine.

    But I suspect it will just mean an excuse for yet more big wage packets at the top, and not result in real efficiencies.

    We have a Tory council in our area, and they are very inefficient, no better than the Labour government they used to criticise.

  • Comment number 64.

    Does raise questions as to whether we need so many councillors in these areas? Surely if we can rationalise the staffing and services, then the same could be said for the representation as well?

  • Comment number 65.

    This sounds like a positive step, but personally, I would go further and abolish local councils altogether. All the useful things they do could be run centrally, which would save even more money (and obviously, all the pointless things they do could be abolished).

    "But what about local democracy?", I hear you cry.

    Local democracy is a myth. Most people just vote tribally for whichever party they have always supported, and local issues don't come into it. If you truly believe that local democracy works, ask yourself this: in those councils that have introduced fortnightly bin collections, what proportion of residents do you think were in favour of it?

  • Comment number 66.

    It is obvious that there are economies of scale in centralising the delivery and management of certain elements of the local council brief. Examples would be HR and IT functions and policies. However there are other elements that need to be more local to ensure democracy. Defining that difference is a critical piece of strategy work that should precede half worked out schemes predicated only by short term cost savings - at least in an ideal world, in the meantime they should probably get on with it.

  • Comment number 67.

    There is certainly amount of logic in this type of move, so long that is, they do not carry all the excess baggage with them and do not reduce front line services. Remember councils are generally incredible wasteful, incompetent and corrupt, even Tory ones!

  • Comment number 68.

    · 55. At 12:06pm on 22 Oct 2010, Paul J Weighell wrote:
    "Will this harm local democracy?"

    Who cares! It should lower costs and improve efficiency.
    #############################

    Typical Tory attitude to democracy, who cares as long as there is profit to be made

  • Comment number 69.

    Fewer staff serving a bigger area ? Isn't the idea that at the moment we have more staff than needed.

    On an unrelated note, how can Eric Pickles get that large.

  • Comment number 70.

    I know all of those areas extremely well and I simply fail to see how merging their services can possibly work.

    Total recipe for disaster in my opinion.

  • Comment number 71.

    5. At 09:51am on 22 Oct 2010, Beige Rage wrote:
    This WILL harm local services. The Tories do not care about the needs of taxpayers - they are ideologically obssessed with cuts, and protecting their chums in the banking industry.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    You know this for a fact? I've worked in many councils and sharing back office resources is the only sensible way to reduce costs. 6 London Boroughs are looking to have shared arrangements and the County Council I'm at currently are looking to do the same. I wish all the moaners would wait to see how the savings are proposed to be delivered before their 'doom and gloom'comments.

    As for protecting the bankers you forget it was NuLabour that allowed them to do what they wanted, look at things with a less biased manner and you won't get blogs like this.

  • Comment number 72.

    BY THE TIME THEY WILL HAVE PAID THE SUPER EXECUTIVE SALARY - THERE WILL BE NO SAVING

  • Comment number 73.

    Surely this is just more centralisation and will lead to policies being made that isn't for the benefit of each council. Will there be a limit on how big a super council can be? You could have one super council administering the whole country.

  • Comment number 74.

    "
    68. At 1:09pm on 22 Oct 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote:

    · 55. At 12:06pm on 22 Oct 2010, Paul J Weighell wrote:
    "Will this harm local democracy?"

    Who cares! It should lower costs and improve efficiency.
    #############################

    Typical Tory attitude to democracy, who cares as long as there is profit to be made
    "

    Unlike Labour where it's who cares as long as they waste billions.

  • Comment number 75.

    Are super-councils the way forward?

    This is called "Central Government" and it has FAILED.

    MY CITY COUNCIL:
    Spend, spend, spend hundreds of £MillionS on unnecessay fixtures and fittings (excessive traffic lights, roadsigns, chicanes (head on traffic) and concrete, "artwork" etc), newbuild substandard housing that is pulled down within 20 years, illogical and poor planning, bludgeoning bureaucracy of forms and costs.

    Councils keep increasing their "Local Tax" year on year for little and diminishing returns.

    Now the EU wish to tax, in a more direct manner, us "citizens".

    I second Mrs Thatcher's... NO. NO. NO!


  • Comment number 76.

    "
    69. At 1:15pm on 22 Oct 2010, quartz wrote:

    On an unrelated note, how can Eric Pickles get that large.
    "

    By inhaling copious amounts of helium.

  • Comment number 77.

    It's certainly a potential way of making more efficient use of resources. For example, my council's dustmen work about six hours a day - the first bins are collected at 08:00, and by mid-afternoon the lorries are parked back at the depot and they've all gone home. If my town doesn't produce enough rubbish to keep them occupied, perhaps they could cover neighbouring local authority areas - getting extra work not just from the staff, but also from very expensive vehicles that sit idle most of the time.
    However, the administration needs to be sensible - there will be no saving if the scheme results in a huge bureaucracy of councils invoicing each other for services.

  • Comment number 78.

    In fact, there was, I believe, a previous super council called Strathclyde. Many believe the subsequent disbanding by the Wilson government to have been anti-productive. Its operation seems to have been an improvement on the operation of subsequent (smaller) organisations. The splitting of the authority was primarily political in an effort to produce a more uniform distribution of voters. Perhaps the BBC should look into this and pass comment.

  • Comment number 79.

    Why not ask the people of Cheshire? We were arbitrarily given two super-councils (East Cheshire and Cheshire-West-and-Chester) a couple of years ago, to replace the old Cheshire County council and seven more local councils.

    Money savings? Not notably - our council tax has gone through the roof. None of the old buildings is "suitable" for the new council so they are building a new super HQ; the different areas have such different levels of provision and service that it takes double the staff to administer, and nobody knows who is responsible for anything.

    Don't do it!!

  • Comment number 80.

    Three Conservative London councils are making plans to merge all their services and create the UK's first "super-council". Will this harm local democracy?

    Only if it doesn't prune out the dead wood in the middle and top management structure, eg. two or managers to run a merged department

  • Comment number 81.

    As councils are VOTED in they should at least have the common courtesy to put their proposals forward by re-election and ensure that EVERYONE gets to vote not just half a dozen die hard party supporters with a blue rinse or tweed suit. I am genuinely appauled by the sort of democracy we all stand for especially councils who spend money like its going out of fashion.Isnt it amazing how the managers in councils can always retain their jobs whilst deciding how to chop down every essential worker delivering services.The merging of councils isnt a bad move as long as it means CHEAPER and I do mean cheaper services resulting in great reduced council tax-like 50% cheaper at leat!If not then what is the point?

  • Comment number 82.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 83.

    I voted for this 3 years ago in Somerset as a member of a parish council and was reprimanded for my outrageous vote. Council unification, remember that Labour initiative... everyone was dead against it - well hindsight is a wonderful thing but maybe if we had taken action then - in a controlled manner. Instead it is suddenly forced onto everyone and these councils will rush through hurried amalgamations. I assume that it means top executives will get culled - which is the main reason I voted for it.

  • Comment number 84.

    · 74. At 1:19pm on 22 Oct 2010, Kuradi Vitukari wrote:
    "
    68. At 1:09pm on 22 Oct 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote:

    · 55. At 12:06pm on 22 Oct 2010, Paul J Weighell wrote:
    "Will this harm local democracy?"

    Who cares! It should lower costs and improve efficiency.
    #############################

    Typical Tory attitude to democracy, who cares as long as there is profit to be made
    "

    Unlike Labour where it's who cares as long as they waste billions.

    #################################

    You will find that it is a typical Tory attitude, that democracy comes bottom of the list in favour of profit

    Profit 1st

    Profit 2nd

    Profit 3rd

    Democracy? Can I make money out of it, If not I don’t care is the tory way.

    You only have to look at the decimation for the lower paid caused by the “We are all in it together” Spending review to see how low down the Tory party’ list of priorities Democracy and fairness are


  • Comment number 85.

    If it will cut costs, I think we should try it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Recommend Post #01 and #67.

    Will believe the so-called reasons for super councils, when our Council Tax goes down, or is at least frozen.

    Everyone knows that our Council Tax contributes to our waste collection, schools, police, social services, trading standards and all kinds of reasonable essential services - and has increased by around 45% in the last 5yrs due to Labour's top down targets.

    So the next time your Council Tax bill drops through your letterbox - always read all the irritating 'bumpf'(?) that accompanies it. It should break down into a basic pie chart, the slices of where your Council Tax goes. Sadly, some of the inserts are all too often printed on glossy and expensive, three coloured print. Two colour print is cheaper. Not unlike those glossy newsletters your council's propaganda are printed on at your expense. Just a minor 'aaaaagh' thought.

  • Comment number 87.

    "69. At 1:15pm on 22 Oct 2010, quartz wrote:
    On an unrelated note, how can Eric Pickles get that large."
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    He was appointed Secretary of State for Hot Air. He's the Cabinet's reservoir of hot air.

  • Comment number 88.

    This does worry me. I'm sure with a decline in staff there will be a decline in services.

  • Comment number 89.

    Are super-councils the way forward? Yes super ones which work not very big ones that do not.

  • Comment number 90.

    68. At 1:09pm on 22 Oct 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote:

    · 55. At 12:06pm on 22 Oct 2010, Paul J Weighell wrote:
    "Will this harm local democracy?"

    Who cares! It should lower costs and improve efficiency.
    #############################

    Typical Tory attitude to democracy, who cares as long as there is profit to be made


    I would have thought that every council tax payer will be pleased if it can achieve lower costs and improve efficiency.

  • Comment number 91.

    Sharing services between councils and other public bodies has been a reality within the IT department for a number of years, and while many councils do not share IT infrastructure services, many, such as Suffolk County Council and Mid Suffolk Council do, and have seen savings made through economies of scale. Using intelligent software, like Hornbill’s Supportworks service management software, that can be easily tailored to meet the requirements of different departments, while still allowing them to share information, can enable councils and other organisations to streamline operations, enable people to work together despite being at different locations and dramatically reduce costs. Patrick Bolger, Chief Evangelist, Hornbill Service Management

  • Comment number 92.

    It's like going back to the past. Anyone remember the "London County Council" ? Now we have devolution in reverse.

    All the same, in this sham democracy of ours which is, in practice, a business administration and power centric grouping has much to save by pursuing synergies of common services along with all that means in purchasing power, accounting and human resources.

    Given the grand scale of things, saving £100 Million a year does not sound that ambitious. In the short term - say 5 years or so, merger costs will actually swallow up savings accompanied with severe indigestion and risks that I.T changes may bring the whole lot to a halt.

  • Comment number 93.

    This will cause an elimination of accountability in the two smaller boroughs and an eventual cost saving measure of cheaper infective services for all.
    Not to mention a new excuse, don't blame us its because of the amalgamation we can no longer provide that service in your area please go use the service in the other borough.

  • Comment number 94.

    The news is telling me that 3 councils have merged to become one of the first super councils with savings of nearly £100m. Just shows how much slack and waste there is in the public sector if it was that simple. It just shows when the belts need tightening how easy it can be!!

  • Comment number 95.

    68. At 1:09pm on 22 Oct 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote:
    · 55. At 12:06pm on 22 Oct 2010, Paul J Weighell wrote:
    "Will this harm local democracy?"

    Who cares! It should lower costs and improve efficiency.
    #############################

    Typical Tory attitude to democracy, who cares as long as there is profit to be made







    I've never voted Tory in my life but I'd agree with poster #55. I don't give a 'word the mods wouldn't like' how accountable my local council is as long as they're providing the services I pay for properly. Its only when they're not doing their job that accountability matters. Its worth remembering that services provided by govt arms that aren't elected (like the cops or the tax people) seem far more efficient that those that are elected as rather than try and get re-elected they do their job.

    Its the same for the NHS. I don't want 'choice' I want a clean hospital and a competent doctor who'll fix whatever is wrong with me. Give me a clean hospital and a competent doctor and there'll be no need to 'choose' anything else!

  • Comment number 96.

    Indeed. After all I pay my tax to one council, shop in another, swim in a third and work in a forth. The fact I can't commute from my house in one council to the largest city in the area (20 miles away) by public transport is because it would need to cross a boundary.
    Super councils are certainly the way forward....
    Why not save the ultimate amount of money by going the whole hog though - centralise the whole lot with central government, finance the whole lot from income tax (not local income tax, but the one we have now), cut all the accountants, the pen pushers that send bills out, the collection agencies, the computer systems, the 'education subcommittee' and similar, centralise purchase of pens, collection and disposal of rubbish (we might even be able to work out that burning rubbish in power stations is better than leaving it to rot and produce methane in landfill if we have a sufficient quantity).

    As usual though common sense is lacking in both the media and government and we will continue with the broken and expensive mess until the Fiji islanders decide its worth invading this place for our oil - after all a couple of war canoes will be able to beat what tiny bit of the RN is stuck on a rock north of Scotland - after all the armed forces can't afford bullets or missiles for the little equipment we have left them.

  • Comment number 97.

    " 82. At 1:50pm on 22 Oct 2010, Peter Bridgemont wrote:
    UK has the highest council tax in EU by far and the councils are already answerable to nobody."

    The UK also has some of the lowest VAT and base rate income tax levels in Europe:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/Income_Taxes_By_Country.svg
    Remember council tax revenue is only a proportion of council revenue and much comes from central taxation (and has now been heavily cut)

  • Comment number 98.

    Savings on purchases can already be made by purchasing as a group. So what are the savings they expect to be made ? My suspicion would be to have fewer staff trying to do the same workload as before so those who still have a job are overstressed and the public less well served. I can't help thinking there is a limit to how much inefficiency one can get rid off. And even if one close to perfect efficiency that usually means no slack which can be brought into play when the unexpected occurs.

  • Comment number 99.

    Bad idea. For starters, this will undoubtedly mean services will suffer: will one group of refuse collectors now have to service 3 areas?
    Secondly, all 3 councils are currently Conservative: this assumes a degree of co-operation between them. But what happens when one or two become Labour or Lib-Dem? We'll just have more political in-fighting, but on a grander scale, and the residents of all 3 areas will be the ones to suffer.

    I've changed my mind: it's NOT a bad idea; it's a VERY BAD idea.

  • Comment number 100.

    "
    84. At 1:51pm on 22 Oct 2010, Its all Thatchers Fault wrote:

    You only have to look at the decimation for the lower paid caused by the “We are all in it together” Spending review to see how low down the Tory party’ list of priorities Democracy and fairness are
    "

    Quite glad I've got lots of money, but then I've worked hard, invested wisely and generally better myself despite coming from a so called Labour working class background. The same opportunities were, and are, there for all, but you lefties think it should all be given to you on a plate and that being successful is a crime and should be punished rather than rewarded.

 

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