Login Register

Cornwall Council Private Partnership Initiative and other nonsense

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

Comments (0)

I, like Robertson, as he often reminds us, served in themilitary, including a tour in the Gulf.  I have the medal to prove it.   Iand all the other personal offered our lives on the understanding we were defendingjustice, freedom of speech and democracy to mention just a few of our worthyideals. 

How dare Robertson say the councillors and all the people ofCornwall are not worthy or bright enough to understand his and Lavery's scheming.   Its breath-taking arrogance and deeplyoffensive.   If I'm ever unlucky to meetRobertson I will enjoy returning his compliments.   The excuse that it's too complicated for usto understand is a smokescreen and part of the con rhetoric.    Cornwall is very diverse with many highlyintelligent individuals well ahead of Mr Robertson's and his cronies level of comprehension.   I do not include all the councillors as someof them should hold their heads down in shame.  Newquay is a prime example of Cornwall Councillors and the Councilmanagement's inability to do their jobs adequately.   We have a right to know and study theproposals thank you very much and consequently there are numerous points thatneed to be brought into proper debate.   

What flimsy evidence they provide to support their proposalswould not stand up in a court of law or any other due processes.   This is why they hide behind confidentialityand why Lavery will not be interviewed, even though he is not elected but apaid public servant.   Lavery wrote apathetic article full of waffle for the national guardian.   His ignorance was immediately highlighted bystating Cornwall is a shire county.   Itis not.   He then went on to say Cornwallhad a GDP per capital increase of 8% in the past ten years.   Sounds good but the reality to the averageman is that wages have actually fallen in real terms over the same period.   I know numerous professionals and tradesmenwho have not had a pay rise for years.  The council is there for us not for corporate profits. 

Lavery then stated 'there are numerous successful examples ofpublic and private partnerships beyond our shores and we need to confront theissue of organisational sovereignty'.   InEnglish he is saying we should relinquish control to corporations yet he failsto provide a single example even though he states there are numerous.  He does not substantiate because he cannot.   Its political spin, economical with the truthand intentionally misleading.   In thesame mode as when the Electricity was privatised and we all told thatcompetition would deliver better services and better prices.   Electricity has never been more complicated,more expensive, with shabby service and limited accounability.

Lavery and Robertson by his own admission are Neo Cons, believing laissez-faire or deregulated freemarkets are the only way forward.   Thisis an Americanisation and by definition equates to every man for himself.   This philosophy has its roots in MiltonFreeman and the Chicago school of Economics.  It has been imposed on the US andvarious other countries with disastrous consequences and is responsible forunimaginable suffering, major environmental damage and death.   Thisis graphically highlighted at the extreme level by Naomi Klein's bestseller'Shock Doctrine'. 

The US is blighted by debt with more debt than the rest ofthe world combined, even though the US population is only 5% of the world.   The US interest payments on debt are greaterthan most countries total yearly expenditure.  Each fiscal year's individual taxreceipts only cover the interest cost of their national debt.   Corporate tax receipts are close to defenceexpenditure.   All other federal expenditure is done oncredit, compounding their debt problem.   It's a con, totally unsustainable and condemnsfuture generations to financial servitude.  

The US problems are very clear.  Local, municipal and other councils arecontinually going bankrupt.   The US inequalitydivide is top of the league.   In apopulation of 315 million over 50 million or 1 in 6 are in abject poverty.   American companies have physical limitationson how much they can suck from their own country so they turn their attentionabroad.  This is the path Robertson andhis cronies want us to follow.  Deregulation is a totally unsustainable scam that only servescorporations and the rich.   This hasbeen spectacularly illustrated by the total failure of the banks, the back boneof our free market system or the G4S Olympic fiasco or too many others examplesto mention now.   It is a perversefailing dogma that has no place in Cornwall Council.  

We need look no further than Somerset to realise that private partnership are all too often failing.  Somerset is experiencing unnecessarydifficulties because their council went down this path.  There is no reason to expect Cornwall to beany different if we follow Somerset.  Robertson, Lavery and Cowould have you believe otherwise but simply listen to Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgewater and West Somersetand descendant of Queen Victoria.   Onewould presume a natural ally for Robertson's Neo Con ideology butLiddell-Grainger, extremely experienced and knowledgeable, is highly criticalof Somerset's foray into its disastrous experience.   He istotally opposed as the facts cannot be ignored.   Somerset still tries to escape from and stillpays for their experiment.  SomersetCouncilors were conned and contrary to what Robertson and others say or wouldhave you believe, this story is repeated all around the country and around theworld.

We are told it's not privatisation but this is the firststage of privatisation.   Once thesecorporations have a foot in the door, there is no turning back.    Accountabilityof public services would ultimately be watered down or lost.  They will not substantiate the facts becausethat would mean explaining all the get out clauses and penalties that areunfairly stacked in the corporations favour.  The risks are simply far toogreat yet to impose their will, these low lives resort to emotional blackmail,bullying and threats which are insulting and provocative.   There are numerous examples of this deliveredby Robertson and co.   For example wehave been told, 'Councillors have been warned they could face legal action ifthey criticise these corporations' or 'Any delay would put the proposals atserious risk' or 'Big costs if the Council pull out of the project' or 'Theonly alternatives to the project would be painful'.   This is all nonsense and they should be morecareful with their words as they flout the law.

We can tell much about Robertson by him quotingNapoleon.   It is totally inappropriateand for those unsure of history, in1799 Napoleon staged a coup d'état installing himself as First Consul and then Emperor.   Napoleon was a warmonger who despised theEnglish.  Under Napoleon France startedthe Napoleonic Wars that involved every major European power.   Millions suffered and countless numbers losttheir lives in the most barbaric ways.  Where is Robertson's head at to quote Napoleon?

Robertson and his cronies are morally bankrupt.   This is clearly illustrated by them invitingCSC to join the tendering.   CSC is aboutto be blacklisted by the government and is under investigation in several othercountries.   They have been caught avoiding tax, paying nothing during 2008-2010.   The actually received over $300million in rebates while making $1.67 billion in profits.   In 2011 the US Securities and Exchange Commission launched a fraudinvestigation into CSC's accounting practices.    CSC were also involved in the failedattempt to computerise the NHS.   Theplan was aborted but only after over twelve thousand million pounds wassquandered.   CSC still got their £3billion because of the clauses in their contract.   This money could have built scores of newhospitals and schools and provide thousands of real jobs. 

More sinisterly, CSC is implicated in renditioning innocencepeople for the CIA.   This is another wayof saying, scores of innocent people, many teenagers were kidnaped, deniedtheir human rights, stripped,dressed in a diaper, tracksuit, goggles, earphones, with their hands and feetshackled.   Once delivered to 'clandestine black sites',they were subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, forced into stresspositions and other torture, a report from the International Committee of theRed Cross states.   Most were not charged and released aftermany years without even an apology.  This included many UK citizens who had to be paid off with millions ofpounds by our government so they would not seek justice through thecourts.   CSC has refused to sign a Reprieve Pledge to "never knowingly facilitatetorture" in the future.   This is a corporation Robertson and Laveryinvited to run our services while we were told 'this proposal brings togetherthe best of the private and public sector, vital for the future delivery ofCouncil services'.   Perhaps CSC serviceswere going to be used for renditioning uncooperative councillors!!....   It really not funny though, especiallybecause these corporations maybe handling all our personal and confidentialdetails.

Robertson and probably more so Lavery, with limitedqualifications and no mandate, have hijacked and are using Cornwall as anexperiment while trying to earn corporate brownie points for themselves.   Lavery is a self-serving parasite and onlyinterested in improving his own lot.   Financiallyhe certainly is bettering himself as Cornwall Council or should I say we payhim the best part of £1,000 per day.  These kind of people evolve around revolving doors.   This was recently graphically illustrated byretired senior military caught by the Times newspaper offering illegal lobbyingservices.  l bet my house Lavery and cohave lucrative jobs lined up for the near future.   Normally its called consultancy work butmany would call it payoff time.   Thesepeople are selling us out.

The Serious FraudOffice should be invited to investigate and look at all the communications,business and private, between these people and the corporations employees.   Areport should be compiled and sent to the Local GovernmentOmbudsman and a public inquiry and or judicial review should belooked into.  

If the council can save money employing private companies thereis no reason they cannot save money by doing this in house.   The people of Cornwall are more than capableof undertaking this themselves without lining the pockets of corporations.   BT makes enough money already and are partof the problem not solution.   If privatecompanies can deliver the same services for less and make millions in profit,then the council is patently not doing its job adequately and should be held toaccount.  

The devil is in the detail and if you look at the detail youwill find contradictions and fallacies.  Thefigures do not add up.   The free marketsthat Robertson and co advocate are an illusion. Why would the council spend millions to save £2.5million per year oncontracts of up to £800 million per year? A questionable £2.5million sounds like a lot but its not, even if theycould deliver it.   New leader Jim Currieis on the record stating that the council has already wasted £42 million pluschanging the council to a Unitary authority and another £42 million plus on theincinerator.   Furthermore we are toldthe Council is to lend Sita £25 million for an incinerator no one wants, yet wewill be paying for it for generations.  

I have a wife and child.  Due to circumstances out of my control I will be lucky to earn £10,000this year.   I have a small house yetwith the utility bills and insurance I have to find £14,000.  This does not include food, child costs,clothing, never mind luxuries.   I do notclaim benefits or receive a penny of support so if the council feel the urge tolend anyone money is should not be to large corporations, who should beself-supporting, but to the people that pay their exorbitant wages and yet aresuffering to such a depth it becomes counterproductive to the county.. 

Robertson is not fit to be a Councillor or council employeenever mind head of the council.   Theyshould not be allowed to make decisions that will impact generation.   The policies Robertson and Lavery advocatedisproportionally have an adverse long term effect on the poor and vulnerable.  We have just seen the huge increase in crimefigures.   Why?   The facts and statistics are veryclear.   There is no place for this in acivilised world and certainly no place for this in Cornwall, a country thatprides itself on liberalism and equality.

In these difficult times, Cornwall should go down adifferent path and set an example of what good people can really do when theypull together.   We do have choice andthe first thing we need to do is retake control of our democracy and the decisionsthat are made on behalf of all the good people that live and contribute to thiswonderful county. 

All the best
Richard Johns

Read more from West Briton

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters
  • shagrats  |  October 22 2012, 9:13AM

    Reprint from a Letter to the Editor, West Briton newspaper, September 27th, 2012. I am the managing director and senior consultant for an IT/ telecoms consultancy based near Helston. I was also previously a senior executive of the second largest multinational in the world, responsible for IT and telecoms procurement across Europe and involved in the outsourcing of a European computer centre and IT services, which eventually went to CSC and was based in the UK. One issue for me is the statement by Councillor Neil Burden justifying the £1,000 per day being paid to a former BT executive working on the project on behalf of the council. The justification is that he is one of only three or four people in the country capable of doing this job. In that case, I must be one of the three or four people. There have to be dozens of people who could oversee the bid and understand the outsourcing business – and for less than £1,000 per day. Further, the council's chief executive and this other individual have both recently been executives of BT. This has an uncomfortable feel about it. It may not be a conflict of interest – but it feels like it to me. I understand four potential suppliers were invited to bid (I would probably have invited five), but two dropped out. Why? Because they knew they couldn't make the savings, or because they thought they wouldn't win due to the perceived conflict of interest of those running the bid process? The statement by Mr Burden that CSC is bidding because it wants a base in Europe is totally untrue. CSC already have their European HQ in Aldershot and a large computer centre in Kingswood, Bristol (outsourced to CSC) as well as elsewhere in the UK and Europe. I've heard figures bandied about that the project is worth between £300 million and £800 million. That's a wide range – and probably reflects the fact that it depends on how many services are outsourced. I can't see either BT or CSC being able to run the libraries or the onestop shops – only the back-office IT and telecoms stuff. Let's assume it's £300 million over a ten-year contract (in my view far too long a term) and they say they are going to save £5 million every year. This means the services being outsourced are currently costing £35 million a year. Most of these outsourcing companies win bids by offering an initial saving of "cost minus 20 per cent", but usually make their money towards the end of the contract by dramatically increasing their charges with subtle clauses they have built into the contract. Understanding the small print is vital to ensure there are no unexpected nasty cost increases. I also read that this deal will provide 500 new jobs. I think you will find 500 jobs will be transferred to BT or CSC (under TUPE rules, meaning at the same salaries and terms and conditions, for a while at least), so 500 jobs (I've even heard it might be 1,000) will be lost from the public sector and transferred to the private sector. Once past the TUPE minimum staff retention timescales a lot of those will go offshore to places like Bangalore and the original council staff could be made redundant. Sixty per cent of outsourced projects do not deliver the savings or the benefits promised. There is already a dispute regarding the project called South West One between IBM Global Services (the outsourcer) and Somerset Council. There's a lot more I could say, but the point is this. Unless you have very experienced people to manage the bid process, who understand the contractual obligations fully and are able to oversee the implementation, Cornwall Council could have a disaster on its hands. With a decision being made in November, I would urge the Cabinet or full council to have an assessment made by a completely independent, experienced consultant who has no allegiance to any supplier. A far-reaching decision is about to be made, so it is imperative – because they owe it to the peop

    |   4
  • diogenes23  |  October 22 2012, 8:10AM

    @ rsurfin I don't necessarily agree with every word you have written but its still a refreshing change from the same old **** that comes out of Cornwall Council. As things stand we are in limbo - the present council is thoroughly discredited (thanks in large part to Alec Robertson's shameful record of lies and incompetence) - and the new leader of the Council is a caretaker who cannot even command a majority within the Tory clique. Worse still, the new leader has said that he will not be standing at the next election. This means that we have a discredited council under a temporary caretaker leader for the next six months. The result is, effectively, paralysis, thanks mainly to the failed pub landlord and his antics. One can only hope that the Conservatives can find a credible leader in the future. Meanwhile, perhaps you should consider standing at the next election yourself. The institutionally corrupt shambles of the current administration will deliver additional credibility to anyone from outside the members of the (mainly self serving and corrupt) local political class. Good luck.

    |   4
  • H_Trevorrow  |  October 21 2012, 10:30PM

    rsurfer you have rather skimmed the somerset council debacle...a si understand the situ they have merely underperformed on the contract and not saved as much as first envisaged. CSC Hhave stepped away from the bidding process. Do you have evidence that anyone in the council hierarchy have any pecuniary interest in the remain9ng bidder or that they will be paid off with a lush job at some point? No? Thought not. {points to your lack of credibility} How would feel paying more council tax to pay for keeping the status quo? You may not like robertson but has he not bought the council budgets in on target and kept our taxes as low as possible? You suggest that keeping the service/core services in house--- given that the council work force have already been cut to the bone where will these cuts be made now? Ask anyone who works for county hall they are at wharp factor impossible already.......but hey you read a best selling book by some body who appears to have never run anything not even a whelk stall....perhaps she could come down county hall and explain to the workforce how to do even more work for even less money...dream on.

    |   -12