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'Smoke and mirrors' claim about the process

By West Briton  |  Posted: October 04, 2012

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THE deputy leader of Cornwall Council has torn into the council's plans to part privatise services as "giving away" £4.3 billion of spending power.

Councillor Jim Currie cited a description of the joint venture process as a "year and a half of smoke and mirrors (and secrecy)" in an e-mail to all fellow members last week, also raising the fact it was dealt with in his absence.

Mr Currie had already raised fears about the plans for the partnership with a private firm in a strongly worded speech at a meeting of full council.

He was furious about the inclusion of procurement services in the proposed contract.

The Conservative councillor claimed the promise of new jobs in the future would come at a cost of £1 million each.

He said the process had been backed up by "secrecy ... and threats of legal action but no real evidence" with members "getting a kicking if they venture into the minefield".

He finished: "I have heard nothing to change my views on the massive risk involved with the size of this venture."

Opposition councillors at County Hall seized the opportunity to highlight Mr Currie's e-mail as evidence that there was a split in the Tory party.

However, Councillor Steve Double, Cabinet member for shared services, suggested there had been a misunderstanding over the procurement services being included in the new contract.

He said: "He seems to think that we will be giving a blank chequebook to the private partner – that is not the case."

He refuted Mr Currie's claim that procurement services had been added into the contract at the last minute, but admitted they were removed and brought back.

See page 37 for more on the shared services plan.

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