Thursday, 20 October 2011

Alternative or just old fashioned privatisation ?

Myself and Sheila Gilmore MP sign
Unison's call for more consultation
Alternative Business Models have dominated the last week and look set to do so for the next 3 months. Decisions are now due on Facilities Management and CATS (Corporate & Transactional Services) - don't worry about what they are, I'll explain later - have been postponed until November and December respectively. The most imminent issue is a recommendation, to be published tomorrow, that the Council "privatises" its Environmental Services division. That's refuse collection, grass cutting, litter picking etc, and the workers affected be Tupe'd to a new employer under a service contract that will last for a minimum of 7 years. Now, using private sector companies to deliver public services is nothing new and sometimes its necessary to secure specialist expertise that may not easily be provided from within the Council. Not necessarily an argument that applies to this service, but you get my drift.

Among numerous other concerns, one issue stands out as the Council prepares to make far reaching and irreversible decisions about public services in the city. And that is - do the public actually agree with this approach ? Well, we don't know, because they haven't been asked. However, there is a perfect opportunity to test this question with the public and that's next year's Council elections. Those parties who advocate the ABM approach can put it clearly in their manifestos and those who disagree and can make that position equally clear. Simples.

Sadly, life's never that straight forward and instead it is likely that decision will be imposed on the next Council regardless of the political make up of the Administration or views of individual councillors or members of the public. Pretty scandalous and undemocratic in this day and age.

Karaoke has never sounded so good !

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