H & F Shares Chief Exec with Kensington and Chelsea

Derek Myers takes over after Geoff Alltimes retires

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L to R: Geoff Alltimes and Derek Myers

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The neighbouring boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea now share a single chief executive, in a move which the two authorities claim will save £200,000 a year.

Derek Myers, who has been chief executive of K&C since 2000, took the helm at both councils after his appointment was ratified by H&F Council on Wednesday, October 19.

The move, which will save the two authorities some £200,000 a year, is the latest in a series of major senior management shares between three west London councils.

In May this year Westminster, H&F and Kensington and Chelsea agreed radical plans to combine a range of services. Children's services, adult social care and libraries are already in the process of being shared and single "Tri-borough" directors have been appointed for each.

Under the plan, there will be approximately 500 management and back office jobs lost across the three boroughs.

The council says overall proposals are expected to save taxpayers in the three authorities £33.4 million by 2014/15 while leading to improvements in many areas. For example, residents will have access to all 21 libraries, with more than one million books, hundreds of entertainment and cultural events and scores of weekly skills and education classes on offer.

While more services are likely to be combined across the three authorities, in some cases it has proved more practicable for now to share between H&F and Kensington and Chelsea.

Kensington and Chelsea and H&F will not only share a Chief Executive, but also the management and delivery of environmental services such as waste management, leisure, transportation, licensing and environmental heath. The two boroughs already share a director of legal services and a director of transportation and highways.

"If we are going to protect our front line services then management and back offices must take the brunt of the savings programme," says the Leader of Kensington and Chelsea, Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell. "The savings go right to the very top, and one of the reasons that is possible is because in Derek Myers we have someone capable of taking on the role of dual chief executive, notwithstanding its scale and complexity."

Before joining Kensington and Chelsea, Derek Myers was chief executive at the London Borough of Hounslow and before that its director of social services. He holds degrees in economics and law and is a qualified social worker.

Derek replaces Geoff Alltimes CBE who is retiring after more than 30 years of service. Geoff has been chief executive since 2002 having previously worked as Director of Social Services. Between April 2009 and October 2010 he was chief executive of both H&F Council and NHS Hammersmith & Fulham. Geoff joined the Council in 1976 as a social worker team leader.

Geoff is continuing his work for the independent NHS Future Forum, the group commissioned by the Government to listen to the views of patients, staff and the public in looking at ways to modernise the NHS.

Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of H&F Council, said: "At a time when the state of the nation's finances mean that we have to save millions of pounds, our residents can be assured that we are doing everything possible to cut back office and management costs, not the services they rely on the most."

Cllr Greenhalgh also paid tribute to Mr Alltimes by saying: "Geoff has devoted his life to public service in Hammersmith & Fulham and has been a major force in bringing down the Berlin wall that existed between health and social care. While he will be sorely missed, the improvements he helped bring about in the way we care for elderly and vulnerable people will leave a lasting legacy."

Mr Alltimes is due to retire on October 31. Each of the councils has signed a ‘Sovereignty Guarantee’ to safeguard local autonomy, responsiveness and identity and all three are retaining their own councillors and decision making processes. Services key to local areas, such as housing management, licensing and planning are not being combined.

October 21, 2011