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Businesses call on Cornwall Council to back £300m privatisation bid

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 04, 2012

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Privatisation plans which have dominated Cornwall Council, sparked the sacking of its leader and prompted a mass walk-out from the cabinet, are back on the agenda.

The so-called shared service joint venture with telecom giant BT, estimated to be worth £300 million, is again set to make headlines as councillors are presented with a range of fresh options.

Cabinet members were last night still waiting to see the officers' report overseen by chief executive Kevin Lavery in response to members' demands for a fuller list of potential options.

A business organisation has written to leader Jim Currie warning that the political upheaval could have a "negative effect on the progress of the partnership proposals".

But following the anger directed towards the previous cabinet over its refusal to back down, senior councillors now say they will abide by the wishes of the full council.

The Cornwall Business Partnership (CBP), which includes BT among its ranks, said it was created more than ten years ago to "drive forward investment and economic growth".

It raised concerns about the plans, saying: "From our understanding of the project, the proposals include very significant job creation."

In a statement, the CBP listed benefits of the scheme, some of which are disputed by opponents of the plans.

They include a claimed guarantee of 500 full-time jobs, £60 million savings from core services and £89 million from improved procurement.

CBP Chairman Thelma Sorensen said there were "service improvements on the table, such as Telehealth and the extension of Tel-monitoring for the chronically ill around the county". She added: "In the light of the cost of supporting the increasing aging population we have here, any investment in this area must surely be welcomed.

"Shared costs must be seen as a way forward in times of economic stringency and the fact that the council would be working with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Community Health and the Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust is, put quite simply, a benefit that cannot be dismissed."

Cabinet member for economy and regeneration Stephen Rushworth said he was awaiting the report, which would be discussed by the full council next week.

Andrew Wallis, the independent councillor for Porthleven and Helston, who spearheaded moves to debate the plans, said he had "never heard" of the CBP despite receiving petitions from across the county in his role as chairman of the parking policy group.

"We still haven't seen the detailed proposals from BT but of the 500 jobs, the company admitted 181 came from redeployment," he added.

"I have always wanted the council to fully investigate all the options and only then will we have an understanding of which is the best.

"In my opinion the council seems to be in favour of an in-house option – there are encouraging signs that this can produce savings."

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  • Phil_lip  |  December 07 2012, 6:43AM

    BarryG we have covered the protected jobs before with Trevorrow, they are not protected at all because there is a clause in every section of the TUPE plus that insures the contractor can sack people if there is an economic, technical or location (if I recall) issue surrounding the employment transfer. This is also a good read from an employment lawyer http://tinyurl.com/d7lppoa 'In line with its aims to open up Government procurement and reduce costs, the Coalition Government has gradually set about withdrawing and watering down much of the TUPE plus regime.' You also have the issue that TUPE PLUS is not legally binding but a guideline leaving it open to abuse by the private sector when they take over contracts.

  • BarryG  |  December 06 2012, 11:29AM

    Great to see this debate here. Comments relating to utelity privatisation are fair, but frankly bear no relevance to this. I'm really not clear why this is being called 'privatisation' at all? It is standard practice to use 3rd parties to provide elements of these mainly back-office services. Most corporations and central and local goverment bodies partner/contract out this stuff to standardise service and cut cost. The supplier is managed, told what to do and more importantly what not to do, the staff transfer under European law for the duration of the contract and their terms of employment are protected and at the end they return to the Council. It the supplier doesn't perform you cancel the contract and the staff return early. In tough times this is actually very canny of the council to protect its workers by placing them in BT for a few years. This and jobs growth and savings as well, is a no brainer. This is NOT PRIVATISATION, the Council remains the decision maker here. No services get cut unless the Council tells BT to do it. This is why using a partner is so popular, they get used as the whipping boy for the unpopular decisions Councils are being forced to make under Central Government spending cuts ! I repeat from my earlier post, do you really want hundreds of Council workers on the dole in Cornwall next year? Really, whatever you think of the current service, how is that good for our economy.

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  • JJLee  |  December 06 2012, 10:14AM

    Colin do not play people for fools, troll away my last comment on the subject.

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  • Colincornish  |  December 06 2012, 8:57AM

    JJLee, sorry but they are new jobs in Cornwall as they are going to trade services from Cornwall that aren't currently run out of this area. Why don't you read the papers on the council website? As for having an interest - yes I do, to bring new jobs and opportunities to Cornwall that will be to the benefit of us all. I also didn't know that the gas and electricity services are going to pass back to the Government which is what you obviously think if you keep comparing this privatisation to utilities.

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  • JJLee  |  December 06 2012, 8:40AM

    Colin you do talk rubbish, they cannot be new jobs. Someone is doing the work at the moment, just admit an interest and move along. Private companies only work to make a profit meaning it must cost us more. On this occasion Nick is spot on and you are looking to pull the wool If ever you are offered something for nothing run...........

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  • Colincornish  |  December 06 2012, 8:24AM

    JJLee, as I said yesterday I don't think you can compare this partnership to privatisation of utilities that were done years ago. This is a partnership that is all about bringing more work to Cornwall so people who's job goes can find new work. Plus the services hand back to the Council after the end of the contract. It is completely different to what has happened in the water, power market etc. The Council can therefore balance it's budget and increase its staffing through this method hence the reason why the Council like many others already have gone down this route. I'd still like someone to explain how a company making a commitment to bring new jobs to Cornwall is a bad thing?

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  • JJLee  |  December 06 2012, 7:28AM

    We should do not need to look beyond a coment by nickthompson "..Look how successful all the other privatisations have turned out,Gas,and Electricity prices far too expensive, as is travelling by train,and don't lets talk about our bus fares, Hospital cleaning etc,etc,none.." A matter of fact and well said said Nick

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  • twain1  |  December 06 2012, 12:09AM

    ... H_Trevorrow Wednesday, December 5 2012, 2:56PM "perhaps jobsdave and twain 1 can illuminate how our council can balance a decreasing budget and maintain staffing ?" I thought I made it clear that the public sector had been hamstrung (through no fault of their own) by PFIs, budget deficits, (courtesy of stupid politicians) and the manufactured banking bail out (courtesy of 5th columnist bankers), that austerity was an artificially produced concept for an excuse for privatisation? Try to keep up Mr Trevorrow, your ignorance is apparent.

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  • RNASDutch  |  December 05 2012, 8:00PM

    So Andrew Wallis, who has been a Councillor for over three years, has never heard of CBP, a branch of the Council for which he works, and is supposed to represent the electors. Try spending more time at County Hall and understanding how things actually work in the real world, instead of wasting all you time on blogging, twittering and generally tell us all hoiw very social networked you are. And having spent months undermining everything that was good about Cornwall Council the the joint venture plan, publicly saying he didn't believe the saving could be made, he now has the chutzpah to say "there are encouraging signs that this can produce savings". Has this man no shame or sense of decency. And of 500 new jobs, he admits he knows 181 come from redeployment, that still leaves 319 new jobs. With any luck in May 2013 you will be applying for one of them, because you really havent got a clue and are rubbish as a local councillor. Chairman of the parking advisory panel. A non job if ever I have heard of one.

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  • Phil_lip  |  December 05 2012, 7:04PM

    Trevorrow you really do know how to twist something, work in the council by any chance lol As a person that obviously believes we have a multi party system in this country you are really blind as to the things that go on, those things are not out of date, one meeting I watched on BBC Parliament and then re-read the transcript was in March of this year and I am really looking forward ot the release of the legislative paper that reforms the water industry. You say a successful former public company, in whose eyes? The shareholders, yes of course they are with profits increasing year on year. In the eyes of the customers, would have to say not as they have lost customers hand over fist because of the high costs and poor customer service they supply, you may hear that one year they managed to get over 1.5 million customers to sign up, but that wouldn't equate to the 4 or 5 million that would have left them. As for the business side of things, much the same, they may have lucrative contracts in some areas but they see to be losing customers there as well, seems there business model isn't very good for the end user in any of there service areas. Narrow view about state ownership there Trevorrow and a bad comparison to make to what was a successful system that had continual growth until the 1950's when the international companies that had raped other countries started in on the UK. You still haven't answered my question, are you happy with the way your taxes are being wasted, multi-national corporations are getting away with tax avoidance and collecting subsidies increasing profits to their shareholders?? Don't you want to peel away all the rubbish and start from scratch with investment going to the right areas?? Seems to me in avoiding the question you know the system is wrong but still want to support it because you would be lost without it ;)

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