05 October 2005 | Rebecca Ellinor
A collaborative public sector procurement project will be a "litmus test" for all of London's partnership projects.
Ken Cole, director of the London Centre of Excellence, one of nine best-practice procurement hubs in the country, said its "exemplar" parking partnership in five London boroughs would act as a test for all joint working.
The project, which is expected to be extended across the city and other parts of the country, has the potential to save £55 million for London alone by standardising goods such as tickets and pay machines, and buying in bulk.
Cole told SM: "This is the first real example where authorities in London, and probably the country, are collaborating on a major project based on Gershon principles and testing the issues."
Stephen Lawrenson, director of special projects at the City of Westminster, who is leading the work, said there is a difference between agreeing in principle and taking action to implement it.
"Sometimes staff are reluctant to help because they don't see it as part of their job."
He said the team initially had trouble getting information on existing contracts and costs and could not continue without buy-in at the top level.
"We had to get it in writing from senior executive and political level and appoint responsible individuals within each council."
Westminster is joined by Camden, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea and Lambeth councils, which between them account for more than half of the parking income in London.
The London Centre of Excellence is funding and project-managing the initiative.