PUBLIC sector unions Unite and Unison both came out firmly against plans to merge three north London boroughs in order to cut administration costs.
The proposal to merge Westminster City Council, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea was given the go-ahead in response to the deep cuts announced by the Government in
Wednesday’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).
Peter Allenson, Unite national officer for local government, said: "The clue is in the name; local government means close to the local community.
"While the severity and speed of the coalition cuts puts horrific pressure on local authorities to cut services, we urge them not to rush into untested structures which could see service users unsure who to turn to when they need help.
"From cleansing services to child protection to social care, councils have to be close to the needs of their communities and the people who elect them and pay for them – and council workers need to know who is in charge.
"Supersizing the delivery of services like this means local councillors become insignificant and have little influence on the services they provide. Voters will soon become disenfranchised and wonder what they are paying for.
"People know and trust local services and have a sense of ownership. Councils play with this trust at their peril."
Unison is angry that it learnt about the merger green-light, not from the employers, but from the press.
Linda Perks, Unison regional secretary for Greater London, said: “The merger plans are bound to mean that services and standards will fall, as decision making becomes even more removed from local people. In addition, any mergers are bound to lead to significant job losses. This will add more London public sector employees to the dole queues and damage the capital’s already fragile economy.
“This announcement clearly demonstrates that the Government’s CSR really means Cuts Strangle Recovery! Unison demands that these three boroughs stop their political posturing and start to talk to the trade unions who represent some very worried employees across West London”.