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Legal warning on private firms branded scare tactics

By West Briton  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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"SCARE tactics" have been deployed to prevent councillors from even expressing their opinions about private firms which are bidding to take over council services.

Members were warned they could face legal action if they criticise the two companies.

County Hall legal chief Richard Williams asked councillors to get any statements they make about BT and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) checked by staff after BT complained about things said during last week's full council meeting.

Independent councillor Graham Walker had highlighted local government projects run by BT in Suffolk and Liverpool which had not been as successful as others run by the firm.

He had mentioned them to balance a list of successful examples cited by Cabinet member Steve Double to show councillors that private partnership schemes of the type being considered by Cornwall Council had a good track record.

Mr Walker suggested it was easier to find "failing" projects than it was to find successful ones.

In an e-mail sent to all councillors last week Mr Williams said: "Expressing opinions which are unfair, inaccurate or both is disrespectful to the companies concerned and may lead to legal action being taken against the i ndividual member."

He then listed four "areas of concern" that had been made by BT including that such comments could "demotivate" staff and that "this language is not helpful to the mutual aim of the council and BT in seeking to stimulate jobs and investment for Cornwall".

The message sparked an e-mail debate by members, seen by the West Briton, with one councillor saying they "deplore the scare tactics being undertaken by Cornwall Council".

But Cabinet member Graeme Hicks said: "I do not accept that these are scare tactics; I believe they are offered to you in very good faith."

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  • cheekyman_jr  |  September 14 2012, 9:26AM

    I think BT do a good enough job of demotivating staff and customers without worrying about what some weak willed councillors say...and as for CSC...well it's actually quite hard to find anything good to say about that rabble...

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  • ackedoff  |  September 13 2012, 5:54PM

    What rubbish Mr Hicks, this is bully boy, steam roller, scare tactics used by the higher echelons in County Hall to force through projects such as these, projects which have been proven elsewhere not too work. If its not this project its the transfer of some parts of social services to groups such as Peninsula Health. The tactics are the same fear, fear, fear! This is not for the best interests of the people in Cornwall, this is a way of abdicating responsibilty of laying people off, which is likely to happen when these private companies fail to deliver the same standard of services the Council does with the same financial constraints This is about abdicating the responsibilty of paying out redundency pay for those who will be laid off by these private enterprises in order to save costs. This is about abdicating the responsibility to carry out legislative requirements of the authority and the start of the dismantlement of the local democratic process in Cornwall. Shame on you Mr Hicks to think that the people of Cornwall cant see this! See you at the next local elections........or maybe not!

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