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'Politically-driven' changes feared

By West Briton  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

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A BUSINESS group has said it is concerned that plans to outsource dozens of council services could be scrapped due to "politically driven" changes at Cornwall Council.

The Cornwall Business Partnership (CBP) has written to council leader Jim Currie highlighting its concerns that the project could be jeopardised.

Cornwall Council was looking to form a joint venture with a private company to provide a raft of council services, including IT, payroll, libraries and benefits.

However the project came to a halt after councillors raised concerns about the plans to privatise services.

As a result of the disagreement over the project, leader of the council Alec Robertson was voted out of his position and Mr Currie was elected in his place, with a new Cabinet appointed.

A review of the shared services project is under way with the council due to discuss the various options and make a decision on whether to go ahead with the joint venture.

CBP chairman Thelma Sorenson said: "Many businesses in Cornwall consider that the proposed Strategic Partnership for Support Services in Cornwall offers a real benefit for the council tax payers in the county at a time of severe economic uncertainty.

"From our understanding of the project, the proposals include very significant job creation, guaranteed 500 full-time employees, protection for transferred staff, £60.6 million guaranteed savings from core services and an even larger figure, £89 million, derived from improvements to procurement.

"These sorts of figures quite simply cannot be ignored, and that is before further cuts coming down the pipeline in respect of central government funding."

The concerns have been made as the council's single issue panel looking at the project made its final recommendations.

The panel, which was set up at the beginning of the process and has been monitoring the project throughout, has raised concerns about the number of guaranteed jobs and the potential extra costs of the project.


It has also recommended an experienced contract manager be appointed as soon as possible to oversee the project.

The panel has also said if the council decides not to proceed with the current proposal to form a partnership with BT, a new working group should be set up to consider the alternative options.

In its conclusion, the panel said in light of the changes at the council as a result of the project there "has been significant political failure in the leadership of this matter".

The council is due to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

From 10.30am on Tuesday go to www.thisiscornwall.co.uk to watch a live webcast of the council meeting.

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  • Phil_lip  |  December 10 2012, 4:12PM

    Are you short sighted then Trevorrow? avoiding and confusing the issue seems to be what you are doing by focusing on a single mantra without looking at or questioning the real issues.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  December 10 2012, 3:20PM

    president bush is my fave scapegoat phil when he encouraged greater credit to avoid a smaller economic correction..........however we are where we are and avoiding / confusing the issue is childish. looking forward to tomorrows council decision ......how can they sweep 20 to 30% cuts under a carpet?

  • Phil_lip  |  December 10 2012, 11:50AM

    The same old mantra Trevorrow, please tell us why you think the bankers should get away with criminal activity that brought our economy to its knees and no one has even been prosecuted for it or any fines brought to banks for the involvement they had, please tell us why you are so happy with the way your taxes are spent which puts us further and further into debt because government has to borrow to fulfill pledges to other countries and the EU and we have to cut our services at home, please tell us why you are happy with the way the top 400 tax dodgers have got away with 10 years or more and owe in the region of £95 billion a year at least and nothing has been done about it. Please try telling us something other than the mantra you have been spouting in a hope that you get people to believe you about the way our country has been running its finances and what you would do about it, because that is the cause for these cuts and even our government hasn't got the guts to take on the fraudsters but instead makes cuts to support what are effectively criminal activities and then have the tenacity to say we are all in it together.

  • H_Trevorrow  |  December 09 2012, 12:10PM

    The council are predicting further cuts to thier budget , which are inevitable, of the order of 20 to 30%. Anyone who thinks that can be done by efficiency savings with no job cuts is clearly delusional. Even if the joint venture delivers less well than predicted it is still far far better than the only other solution which will mean big job losses.

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  • Phil_lip  |  December 07 2012, 6:19AM

    I see Trevorrow is still trying to sell this idea to people without reading the things they say, twisting the words of people that want reform within the way the council is run without privatising the services. Instead he/she is claiming that we all want the 'do nothing approach' by keeping it in-house. It gets boring after a while Trevorrow, but I have noticed that you partake in yet another thread with your twisted tongue and do not have the bravado to answer a simple question about stripping the financial outlay of the country back to basics and making sure that companies and individuals that are avoiding tax actually pay what is owed and continue to do so, unlike the majority of us mere mortals who have tax deducted before we see a penny. What is your opinion on getting to the root of the problem Trevorrow instead of stripping society and making those on less than £12k a year suffer, please enlighten us all.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  December 06 2012, 3:24PM

    Hi jj the local gov association are already promoting the sharing of services {with no private involvement} please see http://tinyurl.com/cjrt93e Reading the case studies you will notice that the cost savings are made thru job losses/eradication of duplicated functions. The in house do little option is gambling that we can resist sharing services and experience surely points to a centralisation to outside cornwall in recent years....ref the number of organisations being now centred at exeter or bristol.

  • JJLee  |  December 06 2012, 2:45PM

    "Sell our expertise" – Care to name any which can be run remotely which Cornwall Council has experts nobody else has? Councils share very little in common, the cost of harmonising the systems would be cost prohibitive to start with, as councils mostly run bespoke applications and local ways of operating. Were councils to accept this initial outlay you would then have uncooperative staff who would refuse to help with the migration due to redundancies and endless strikes. Sounds far better on paper than it does when it comes to taking over another council whose expectation of so called experts is always going to be impossible to deliver with fewer resources which is what happens when you lower head count thinking one expert can do two peoples job when it only takes one thing to go wrong at one site and the other site loses support, idiotic concept on a par with buying London bridge, very basic due diligence.

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  December 06 2012, 1:51PM

    @ jobsdave...it is not the ''same service''...the whole idea is to sell our expertise to other councils who are all looking to save money as we are. Commonsense tells you that eliminating the duplication of roles at many different authorities will produce economies of scale.Any job losses would be at authorities at client councils which are likely to occur anyway as they will be forced by economic neccessity to share services between authorities. The experience of gas and electric supply industries is that you can lower prices and pay shareholders. Increased prices are completely accounted for by world gas and oil markets where since 2004 prices have more than doubled.

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  • josdave  |  December 06 2012, 11:52AM

    What is it with all this emphasis on privatisation with no concern atall for the recipients of the services. You cannot provide the same service with the same number of staff and pay divicends to shareholders. Either the services suffer or there will be job losses or both. We are paying the wages of these councillors for services to be provided by council staff. Let them earn it.

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  • BarryG  |  December 06 2012, 11:38AM

    Despite the recent political uncertainty actually what Jim Currie has done is right. He has stopped the process and taken stock, made sure that all options have been properly reviewed and now is bringing it back to Council to redebate. We can only hope that now councillors have been given the opportunity to review what is on offer that this partnership with BT can move forward. Cornwall needs investment, jobs and we need to face the fact that Central Government is slashing our budget and unless we get smart and work with the private sector, (Note: work with, NOT PRIVATISATION, the Council remains in control ) the alternative is sacking hundreds of Council workers next year and no one wants to see that!

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