Jim Currie, the Deputy Leader of Cornwall Council, has today circulated a letter to all Cornwall Councillors about the authority’s plans for “shared services.”
It is a telling condemnation of the “part-privatisation” of a host of the Council’s core activities.
Quotes from the letter include:
“The incorporation of procurement into the Joint Venture has increased its financial scope from £22m a year for Shared Services to include the huge procurement Budget recognised by the Service officially as influence over £436m annually. The latter is a step change of potentially 20 times the original scope and exceeding the projected limits. Giving £4.3 billion of spending power away to a proxy over 10 years is a dangerous business.”
“These constitutional aspects of Finance lead me to the topic of Policy which is the preserve of Full Council and for which I have some responsibility using my Democratic Services hat. The main Policy document is the Council Business Plan. The current plan first emerged in 2010 with the Budget and is still valid. However a Policy statement declared we would be “open-minded about alternative service delivery but this now translates in 2012 into “this is about extending the commissioning philosophy to the rest of the Council”. There have been a few inconsistent updates over the last 2 years including denials that Policy has changed. The 2011 Plan had 2 versions attached to the Budget paperwork for Full Council and the 2012 Plan only turned up at the last minute since it was labelled as attached but was not. The paperwork falls short of standards expected of government therefore, as admitted, the 2010 philosophy must remain. Therefore the current dash for extra scope in the JV must be slowed down and handled more carefully to demonstrate open mindedness, especially with billions of pounds worth of procurement which has only recently been identified.”
“The JV process has been described as a year and a half of smoke and mirrors (and secrecy) sorting out £22m a year contract followed by a smash and grab raid of a few weeks imposing a £436 million a year contract for procurement. I would agree with this description since I was on leave when it happened.”
By comparison, Council Leader Alec Robertson continues to reinvent democracy. In his latest message to members, he writs:
“Although 46 Members supported the motion on the day expressing a negative view in relation to the Strategic Partnership, the remaining clear majority of Members either supported the Cabinet’s position, abstained or removed themselves from the debate before voting.”
So there you have it – people who abstain, or fail to turn up, all support whatever Alec Robertson and the Cabinet is doing.