Recent developments in London could lead to significant changes in the way local authority legal teams operate across the country.
The London Borough of Croydon has confirmed that the post of borough solicitor and director of legal and democratic services ‘has been deleted by reason of redundancy’, with effect from Monday.
Legal services responsibility will transfer to the council’s chief executive (corporate resources). The council’s monitoring officer responsibility ‘will be assigned to a postholder reporting to the chief executive in respect of this element of their responsibility’, a council spokesperson said.
The Gazette was told no other posts in the legal and democratic service will be ‘redundant’ from next week.
Meanwhile HB Public Law, which comprises the merged legal teams of Harrow and Barnet councils, is forging ahead with ambitious growth plans.
HB Public Law was granted an alternative business structure licence in 2014. It took over the legal services of the London Borough of Hounslow and entered into a shared services agreement with Aylesbury Vale District Council the following year.
Harrow’s director of legal and governance services Hugh Peart (pictured) was appointed Buckinghamshire County Council’s legal chief in April last year. Following the announcement Peart told the Gazette he would divide his time between the two roles.
A report prepared for Harrow council’s cabinet last week, entitled Expansion of HB Public Law, details plans for Buckinghamshire County Council to delegate its legal function to HB Public Law for three years.
The paper states that ‘over the past few months discussions have also been taking place with other local authorities, with the aim of developing relationships of mutual benefit between them and HB Public Law.
‘These discussions may result in further shared services arrangements or alternatively may result in further shared services arrangements where the partner organisation and HB Public Law are able to work together and benefit from greater economies of scale’.
HB Public Law will increase in size ‘by almost 50%’ should Buckinghamshire County Council be brought into the fold, the report states.
The proposal will ‘contribute towards achieving’ savings of £992,000 that Harrow’s legal service has to make over the next three years.
The report states that ‘final negotiations’ are taking place. The agreement is expected to be signed by 31 March and the shared service will go live on 1 May.