An innovative new transport hub, launched jointly by Brent and Harrow Councils, is helping 1,500 young people with physical disabilities or learning difficulties get to school, while saving tax-payers in both boroughs a packet.
Special needs transport, previously delivered separately by the neighbouring councils, provides specialist daily transport to children from four to 18 years old, either with learning or physical disabilities, or who display challenging behaviour. It also helps more than 300 older people get to activity and day centres.
As school numbers rise, the future of these type of services is being profoundly challenged. Brent and Harrow have seen a year-on-year growth in demand of more than 10%, placing unprecedented pressure on both councils.
Their response has been to pool resources and launch the Harrow and Brent Transport Hub, which now serves both boroughs and, it's estimated, will save £1.5million over the next three years.
Cllr Kiran Ramchandani, who has Harrow Cabinet responsibility for Performance, Corporate Resources and Policy, said at the launch event on 2 September:
"The division between Brent and Harrow is a made-up line - we have children on both sides of it with profound needs and a right to education. Previously, many were travelling in the same direction to the same schools on different buses.
"We've removed all that duplication at a stroke and, because of our new size, we've also negotiated better deals on contracts, including for the taxis that 800 local people rely on daily."
As well as providing home to school transport, the service helps young people with disabilities to enjoy full and varied lives, and take part in after-school activities, sports clubs and school trips.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Brent Council Cabinet member for Environment, who attended the launch event alongside the Deputy Leader of Brent Council, said:
"The launch of this shared hub is extremely important for both Brent and Harrow. It will save a huge amount of money whilst safeguarding an important service.
"Our funding from the Government has been slashed in half, but through creative and collaborative work like this, we can not only retain the quality of this valuable service but we can also improve and develop it for residents in both boroughs."
Brent and Harrow are no strangers to shared services - they forged what is thought to be the country's first in the 1960s, when they agreed to provide trading standards jointly - 50 years later and it's still going strong.