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Shared Legal Services Alternative Business Structure Proposal - III

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Rosalie Nielson

Dear Westminster City Council,

Background

1. On 30 October 2017 your Cabinet received a report on the above subject, a proposed merger of the City Council's shared legal services with LGSS Law Ltd, an alternative business structure.

2. The report purported to be able to estimate "savings" from the proposed merger without reference to the terms on which it would take place. It proposed there should be no client role in relation to the new legal service at all (other than the Director of Corporate Services). The report contained none of the information necessary to enable the Cabinet to make an informed decision (see my first request), but said it was essential that implementation should proceed "at pace".

3. The Cabinet agreed the recommendations in the report.

4. The Director of Corporate Services and the Director of Law appear not to have implemented the Cabinet's decision. Nor have they returned to Cabinet with any explanation or further recommendations.

5. On 15 January 2018 the then Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services reported to the Housing, Finance and Corporate Services Policy and Scrutiny Committee, without comment or explanation, that "the merger proposal with LGSS Law is currently on hold and 'go live' is postponed until at least April 2018".

6. On 26 March 2018 the Cabinet Member reported again to the Policy and Scrutiny Committee, now saying that the go live date "has been paused".

7. The Council's Forward Plan refers to a report from the Director of Law on a "Legal Services Proposal to move from Tri to Bi Borough Arrangements". A decision on the report was due to be taken on 22 March by the Cabinet Member. However, no report has yet been submitted. Nevertheless, it appears Legal Services has moved from Tri to Bi Borough arrangements. Since the Tri borough arrangement was one designed to achieve savings, presumably its collapse involves further cost.

8. In March 2018 a Best Value inspection of Northamptonshire County Council, a failing authority which was to have been one of the City Council's partners as a shareholder in LGSS Law Ltd, was published. It criticised the County Council's relationship with LGSS as one which fragmented the expertise available to support the strategic management of the council, and said "while legal services are delivered by LGSS Law Ltd, the lack of an appreciable client role for legal services has not assisted the council in controlling its costs".

9. In May 2018 Quentin Baker resigned as the Executive Director of LGSS Law Ltd.

10. On 20 June 2018 the new Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Regeneration provided an "update" to the Housing, Finance and Customer Policy and Scrutiny Committee. No mention was made of LGSS Law Ltd. The single priority of the Shared Legal Service for 2018/19 with respect to the City Council was said to be "Support to the Grenfell Public Inquiry and Criminal Investigation" - that is, work for another authority.

11.On 9 July 208 the Cabinet received a report from the City Treasurer on the City Council's financial outturn for 2017/18. Despite not prioritising any City Council work, the Legal Service recorded a huge £231k overspend for the year, part of which was attributable to spending £86k on implementation costs in relation to LGSS Law Ltd.

So far as one can tell from information in the public domain, therefore, those at officer level responsible for the City Council's legal service have wasted substantial amounts of public money , and are treating the elected members of the Council with contempt.

Request

Please provide me with all correspondence passing between the City Council's Director of Law, Director of Corporate Services and/or responsible Cabinet member in relation to the shared legal services alternative business structure proposal, between 1 November 2017 and 1 July 2018.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Rosalie Nielson

Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7770633

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Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7770633

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
Dear Sir/Madam,
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 11 July
2018.
 
Request summary
Dear Westminster City Council,

Please provide me with all correspondence passing between the City
Council's Director of Law, Director of Corporate Services and/or
responsible Cabinet member in relation to the shared legal services
alternative business structure proposal, between 1 November 2017 and 1
July 2018.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Rosalie Nielson
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[FOI #496977 email]
 
We are dealing with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and we aim to send a response by 8 August 2018.
 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 may restrict the release of some or
all of the information you have requested. We will carry out an assessment
and if any exemptions apply to some or all of the information then we
might not provide that information to you. We will inform you if this is
the case and advise you of your rights to request an internal review and
to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
 
We will also advise you if we cannot provide you with the information
requested for any other reason together with the reason(s) why and details
of how you may appeal (if appropriate).
 
Yours faithfully,
 
 
Westminster City Council
Email: [1][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [2]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
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References

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Westminster City Council

Information request
Our reference: 7770633

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Dear Rosaile Nielson
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Council are aware your Freedom of Information request is due today.
Unfortunately, the Council are not in a position to respond as we are
still working on your request and need more time to process it. We are
aiming to respond by Monday 13th August 2018 but will inform you of any
further delays.

 
Yours faithfully
 
Westminster City Council
Knowledge & Information Management Team
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [1]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
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Westminster City Council

2 Attachments

Information request
Our reference: 7770633

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Dear Sir/Madam
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 11 July 2018.
 
Please find attached our response to your request.

If you are dissatisfied with your response please send your Internal
Review request to the email address below

[1][Westminster City Council request email]

 
Yours faithfully
 
 
Westminster City Council
Knowledge & Information Management Team
Tel: 0207 641 3921
Email: [2][Westminster City Council request email]
Web: [3]www.westminster.gov.uk
 
NOTE: Please do not reply to this email.

References

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2. mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
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