Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Privatisation kicked into the long grass

Cornwall Council today voted to kick privatisation into the long grass.

In the interim, the council will properly consider alternatives including:
  • working more closely with our NHS and other public sector colleagues to share services and deliver savings as a result (but without a private sector partner creaming off a profit);
  • working with a private sector partner in a trading venture to bid for contracts outside Cornwall and to bring new jobs to Cornwall;
  • an employee-owned mutual company.
In my opinion, we can't afford to take this decision without properly understanding all the options. The old cabinet started off with one view and then dropped it (for no apparent reason) and put all its eggs into the full-privatisation basket.

I also believe that the final decision must rest with all 123 councillors - not a select group of 10 - and that provision was agreed by council today.

So how deep into the grass has this been kicked? My personal view is that it should be for the next council to take this decision. None of the current councillors was elected on a manifesto commitment to support or oppose privatisation - it wasn't on the table in 2009. If the final decision is delayed until after May next year then the councillors can feel they have the mandate of their electorate to support one option or another.

But whatever model is taken forward, I do not believe that libraries or one stop shops should be handed over to a private company. These are key front line services and I think they should carry on being delivered by Cornwall Council staff on behalf of Cornish residents.

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