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Merton and Richmond look for new legal chief after White returns to NZ

Merton and Richmond Councils are to seek a new head for their pioneering shared legal service following Helen White’s decision to return to New Zealand in October this year.

White played an instrumental role in the establishment of the joint service, having been appointed interim head in August 2010 on the retirement of her Richmond counterpart.

The Merton-Richmond shared service was approved by the Cabinets of the two councils in February this year and is the first of its kind in London.

The cost of the service has been estimated at approximately £2.2m at year, with savings of £100,000 in 2011/12. It is estimated that the scheme will save 20% in legal costs by the end of the second year of operation.

White said: “I am delighted to have been involved in such an exciting project. We have a great team of lawyers who are building an excellent legal service. I will be sorry to leave but I am keen to return home to Christchurch, New Zealand after so many years away and particularly after recent events there.”

Gillian Norton and Ged Curran, chief executives of Richmond and Merton respectively, said: “Helen has done a wonderful job and we are sorry to see her go. The joint legal service has proved to be very popular with both councils and we are sure that it will go from strength to strength. We fully understand Helen’s wish to be closer to her family and wish her all the best when she returns home in the autumn.”

Philip Hoult