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London councils approve four borough shared legal service

The London boroughs of Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Kingston have approved plans for a shared legal service serving all four councils.

Merton, which already has an existing arrangement with Richmond, will host the service as lead authority.

As previously revealed on Local Government Lawyer, Sutton and Kingston will meanwhile retain a monitoring officer and corporate lawyer role, with the post-holders also acting as intelligent clients and commissioners.

The four councils said the expanded service would save £600,000 over the next four years, in part by reducing the need to instruct outside lawyers but also by rationalising office overheads. It is also expected to improve resilience and flexibility.

The authorities said consultation would take place with the staff affected.

Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton, said: “We are always looking at how we can deliver quality services while providing the best value for money for the taxpayer. We are the first to share legal services in this way across four boroughs.

“The success of Merton and Richmond’s shared legal services since 2011 has proved that joining forces with other boroughs can make a positive difference in providing a quality in-house legal service while making significant financial savings. We are looking forward to working with our colleagues in Richmond, Kingston and Sutton and to making the legal services for all four boroughs resilient and robust.”