Thursday, 2 August 2012

MK slams privatisation of council services

Mebyon Kernow – the Party for Cornwall has condemned the decision of Cornwall Council’s ten-strong Cabinet to part-privatise a series of key services.

Cornwall Council continues to be in discussion with two large private companies, one of which will jointly run services such as the payment of benefits, the running of libraries and one-stop shops. It is stated that other partners such as the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust could also be involved, but have yet to commit to the project.

The leadership of the Council claims that the venture would create 500 jobs and produce savings of £5 million in the first two years. But the move is opposed by "back-bench" councillors of all political persuasions.

I agree with Unison’s Stuart Roden who has pointed out that many similar joint ventures have failed. In particular, he said: "We don't see how it's possible to protect and create jobs, make savings of 20 per cent-plus, improve services and make a profit for the shareholders of private companies. The whole thing does not stack up."

MK opposes the ongoing privatisation of council services by the present Cabinet. We find it disturbing that Cornwall Council would also be a minor partner in such an arrangement, with councillors sidelined and local democracy further undermined.

We do not accept the claims about the projected savings or the new jobs, which we consider to be wishful thinking. We also worry for the very future of Cornwall Council as a democratic public sector entity.

The massive cuts from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government, and the privatising agenda of Conservative-led Cornwall Council, is doing great damage to the fabric of our public sector and its services. What is more, it is ordinary people who will suffer the consequences of such privatisations.

I will be having much more to say on this topic in the coming weeks.

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