By Maria Georgiou
CYPRIOT leader of London’s Merton council, Stephen Alambritis is hoping to meet municipality leaders in Cyprus to share his experiences and help them cut costs after his council was recently named the best achieving.
Merton council was named the best achieving council at the MJ Achievement Awards 2013 on June 20 at a ceremony in London.
Alambritis wishes to share his knowledge of leading the council through tough economic times by sharing services with other councils.
“Instead of having a legal service for each municipality, the Larnaca and Aradippou municipalities, for example, can share the same one, therefore lowing costs,” Alambritis explained.
“I want to come to Cyprus and share some of the things we have done in the UK to save money for the tax payer by becoming more cost effective,” he said.
Municipalities can also encourage volunteers to help in running the establishment, as well as making difficult but necessary decisions on freezing salaries for the next four years, as Alambritis has done.
Famagusta mayor, Alexis Galanos sent Alambritis an email on Friday to congratulate him on receiving the award.
“I am trying to arrange a trip to Cyprus, at my own expense with Galanos, to talk to municipalities individually or as a whole.
“It may be that the Cypriot experience is different but let’s see. I am putting an offer on the table and I believe I can help,” Alambritis said.
“If we have Greek-Cypriots who are excelling throughout Europe or the world and they can share their experiences, these can be used and copied for the benefit of Cyprus. Let’s not worry about copying people, if something has been done well let’s share it,” he added.
Cyprus has 32 municipalities that serve 800,000 people while London has 32 municipalities that serve eight million people.
“As the numbers show, London municipalities operate on a much larger scale so I believe I can help open doors and discuss how procedures can operate in a rational way towards a more sufficient outcome,” Alambritis said.
Aradippou mayor, Evangelos Evangelides has invited Alambritis to his office and Alambritis has also invited Evangelides to see how the Merton council works.
Speaking about the best achieving council award, Alambritis said “this is the most prestigious award for local authorities. Winning the best council award is a great honour for the staff here at the council and volunteers because these are very difficult times for the 400 councils in the UK.”
The organisers of the award praised the council for consistently delivering for its residents across all service areas, its excellent services and value for money. Merton council was also recognised as one of the lowest spenders in London while performing at top quality.
Merton’s legal team was also shortlisted in the best legal services category.
Alambritis was born in Aradippou. He and his family took a 12-day boat trip from Larnaca to the UK in 1964 when they moved there.
The London Borough of Merton is an outer London borough to the south west of the capital with a population of 200,000 living in 80,000 households and served by 7,500 businesses.