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Council set to welcome tenders for part-privatisation of services

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 31, 2012

Cornwall Council

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Council chiefs have been accused of "risking" taxpayers' money after waving through proposals to part-privatise key services.

As part of an £800 million contract, a joint company between Cornwall Council and a private firm could save the authority at least £2.5 million a year, according to a report released earlier this month.

Yesterday at an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet, Cornwall Council rubber-stamped recommendations to invite private sector bids to share the running of services including libraries, "One-Stop Shops", IT and payroll.

The next step is for council bosses to put contracts out to tender – firms on the cards to do business with include BT and IT company CSC. Mark Kaczmarek, independent councillor and cabinet portfolio holder for housing and planning, voted against the move.

He said: "I don't feel we had all the information in front of us.

"These companies are about profit – they have no loyalty to the people of Cornwall or those working for the council.

"I feel this is something we could have done in-house because we have the skills."

Andrew Wallis, independent Cornwall councillor, called for further debate on the issue.

He said: "I think the cabinet is taking a massive risk with taxpayers' money.

"There are so many unknowns and the whole process has been rushed. It's such a huge, complex issue that needs time to make sure we're doing the right thing. Worst-case scenario is, we end up with companies not doing the job properly, similar to the PFI fiasco with half-built schools."

Liberal Democrats on the council believe the matter should be decided by cabinet, but wanted a debate at full council.

Alex Folkes, deputy leader, pointed to the recent fiasco when the council handed the waste and recycling contract to Cory as evidence the authority did not have the wit to deal with the private sector.

He said: "They couldn't even get that right and it was one contract. What's being proposed now is massively complex. We are particularly concerned about the future of library and face-to-face services. Cornwall's Conservative leadership, which considered closing all but nine libraries just over a year ago, now wants a private company to run them as some sort of loss leader."

But Mr Folkes did not rule out dealing with the private sector totally. He added: "We can do some business with these companies on a limited basis, but we should not be trusting so many of our services to companies who have no history of carrying out similar work."

Stuart Roden, from the union Unison, said he was concerned about job losses.

He said: "We can't find evidence of where anything like this has worked well."

Alec Robertson, Conservative council leader, last night failed to respond to the WMN for comment in time for publication.

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  • Phil_lip  |  August 01 2012, 5:53PM

    If this is allowed to happen it will be the end of democracy, even though we don't have a true democracy anyway and it will be impossible to reverse in the short term due to the binding contracts that will be drawn up. Cheekyman jr has the right idea, it is time to look into a vote of no confidence in council and government and getting them changed. Saying that, Syria has been in turmoil for about 18 months with fighting and lots of innocent civilians have been killed, yet the western governments are not doing anything to the war criminals that have changed sides so the chances of a new system of governance in this country are slim to none. Vote UKIP nationally is the only option we have at present till something better can be peacefully brought to the table.

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  • albru  |  August 01 2012, 3:09PM

    Remember all those post reorganisation promises from the old County Council? Not worth much now. Don't mind people jumping on bandwagons, but do they not realise that privatisation is currently becoming less fashionable as the pitfalls become evident? Trust CC to go for it just as almost everyone else rethinks!

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  • easyweasel71  |  August 01 2012, 10:48AM

    This is a con Joint Ventures have never worked nor will they ever. A private company will expect to make a profit and the only way to do that is to drive down wages and staff terms and conditions. Other Councils have wasted millions on these schemes and then have to bring them back in house as they are so poorly run, do we really want BT running the libraries with their appalling customer service record? Alec Robertson and Lavery are driving this through but we should question why they are so keen to start a type of venture that has been shown to fail elsewhere on so many occasions. Cornwall Coucillors are too dim witted to mess with the sharks in the private sector and it will be us the Taxpayers who will have to foot the bill when it all goes pear shaped.

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  • Jack_D  |  July 31 2012, 10:48PM

    Its another cock-up in waiting being driven by the Lavery. Councils up the line have tried this and failed - bought themselves out of the contracts etc. NO jobs will be created - only loyal council workers losing their jobs (most, like me on below average pay before people start saying we have it easy). This is on top of 2 / 3 years stress reapplying for our jobs and losing valuable team members. For senior officers its toe the lavery line or leave as some have. When the carcass has been picked bare Lavery will swan off to another council/firm to work further destruction.

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  • poldice  |  July 31 2012, 10:28PM

    My hunch tells me that the often gulliable councillors are led by the nose by appointed officers who are told what to do by the relevant ministrys in London. When in reality our elected representatives ought to be calling the shots on behalf of their electorate who should be scrutinising and closely questioning their every move, this lot have been getting away with murder for so long it has become a habit. It is time that the electorate woke up and asserted their authority on their servants bot elected and unelected, if the tail wont stop wagging the dog lets cut it of at the base.

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  • dee_2  |  July 31 2012, 10:27PM

    Does anyone know who exactly in Cornwall Council's 'cabinet' is supporting this move? Kaczmarek voted against it, so who do we have to thank for this disgraceful act? I noted both the prime minister and Vince Cable mentioned in recent interviews that the private sector would get us out of the financial mess we are in. And both men commented with a smug look on their faces that there was already growth in the private sector. Putting to one side the fact that it was the private sector that got us into this mess, the 'growth' being referred to has come about simply as a result of the sort of thing Cornwall Council now plans to do - outsource. The perfect example of the stupidity of these people is Remploy - sacking the local workers and giving their work to the private sector. If this is their idea of getting the economy back on its feet then god help us.

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  • esotericage3  |  July 31 2012, 6:42PM

    It must be great when you can spend £9.2Billion pounds on the corporate games and still have paper money to spend. It was always said that money doesn't grow on trees, but money is just printed out of thin air by the Bank of England. I think those in control of the money supply need to print another £9.2Billion to correct the damage that's currently being done to the UK economy, but I very much doubt the moneyed men would want to print such a large amount of money to help us.

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  • Eddie_PZ  |  July 31 2012, 6:22PM

    This really is a disgrace and those in 'The Cabinet', especially Robertson, should explain exactly who is pushing this privatisation. There is nothing that's been said so far that isn't spot on. What is proposed is simply another transfer of what belongs to us into private hands. Thatcher flogged off the 'family silver' and the pace of sell-offs accelerated under Bliar with the added benefit of the PFI. Now the ConDems are at it again. Though there isn't much to flog off any more they'll find something. It looks as though with Cornwall Council they already have. Pass the sick bag, Alec.

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  • esotericage3  |  July 31 2012, 6:01PM

    "esotericage3 IO suspect you are right. When the Lib Dems ran the show, and not very well at that, they got a lot of stick from the Tories and the Independents. Now the Tories/independents have the power nothing seems to have changed in my view. It's the system that is corrupt whatever one party may say in opposition once they are in power it's noses to the trough as usual and the constituents, who pay their wages, can take a running jump." josdave Yeah, but this is nothing new. Its been like this for many centuries. We have an Olympic games currently taking place in London, and the cost of the opening ceremony was estimated at £27 million pounds, then we have the overall cost of the games, estimated at £9.2 Billion, and yet we have privatised firms being brought in to make as much money from public/customer services that are supposedly meant to serve the intrests of the general public. We have hospitals in the UK being run into the ground, governmental services being partly/fully tendered out, no manufacturing base hardly at all, but Britain use to be one of the greatest manufacturing countries in the world, education going to the wall, and yet we're being told that we are in an age of austerity by the central banks that run our economies. But don't worry, to save money, we're going to invest in privatised companies to deliver your council services. Its very old chestnut that's been used time and time and time again, and it works. What I would like to know is why billions can be found for the Olympics, but no money can be found to manage peasent, sorry public services in the UK. Money is the GOD that rules this Earth with an iron fist. Most of the money from the Olympics will vanish without trace once the bread and circuses have left the UK. If your a major corporate sponsor of the Olympics, no worries, take your cash and make off like a thief in the night.

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  • josdave  |  July 31 2012, 5:24PM

    esotericage3 IO suspect you are right. When the Lib Dems ran the show, and not very well at that, they got a lot of stick from the Tories and the Independents. Now the Tories/independents have the power nothing seems to have changed in my view. It's the system that is corrupt whatever one party may say in opposition once they are in power it's noses to the trough as usual and the constituents, who pay their wages, can take a running jump.

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