Yesterday, Cornwall Council’s Interim CEO, along with the Chairman of Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust and the Director of Finance at Peninsula Community Health signed the contract for the JV with BT.
It was carried out with little fanfare; just an email sent to Councillors informing them of the deed.
For staff affected by the deal, formal consultations will begin on the April 1st (no irony), with the transfer of staff to BT taking place in July.
Lets hope the Council does not regret this day. And to the staff, I am sorry.
This is probably going to be my last post on the JV as the Cabinet has approved the tender received by BT. All the Cabinet Members apart from one (Bert Biscoe) approved the deal. The meeting today has brought to the end aIt a long, emotive, and fraught process.
I will say I am pleased the Cabinet meeting today and the information surrounding the bid was all done in open session. It might bring some confidence back in to the process of partnership working.
The report can be found HERE. This includes the actual savings and job that will and hoped to be created.
As for the jobs, the deal will create 197 new (guaranteed) jobs by end of year 4 and 313 new jobs to be delivered through reasonable endeavours by end of year 5. I am told the term reasonable endeavours has legal meeting, but for me, it still sounds wishy-washy.
The number of staff “in scope” and transferred to BT is 282 full time equivalent (FTE) council employees (132 in Information Services, 76 in Shared Services, 46 in document management and 28 in Telecare). Formal consultation with employees is planned to start in April 2013. I am there will be some nervous staff wanting to know how they will fit into this new utopia.
However, this new utopia might have a sting in the tail on jobs. As 52 jobs have been identified to go by the end of year 4. There is a contractual commitment for most impacted staff to be re-deployed, but that sounds like nothing more than a false-hope.
Anyway the deed is done, and I just hope it will not turn into the disaster like so many other council’s joint ventures up and down the land.
Yesterday, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet approved the process to send out the Invite to Tender for the Joint Venture. It did surprised me that after the Budget vote and the loss of a large chunk of staffing costs, the JV was finished. However, it turns out it is not, as suddenly BT have offered a better deal to mitigate against this lost of finance.
I cannot say too much on what happened at the meeting because most of the debate was in closed session (no public allowed to be present). I will say there are savings. But no way near what was hoped. Though it will be interesting to see the final costs the council incurred against the actual savings this contract will bring over the 10 year period of the contract. It would not shock me if the difference between the two was not that much.
As for jobs, there is a number of guaranteed jobs during the life of the contract. It is not anywhere near the original 500. But to be fair, the contract is a lot smaller. There is also an ‘aspiration’ for more jobs, but that is not guaranteed.
It frustrates me that I cannot actually say what has been agreed. After all it is in the public interest, it is using tax payers money and there is only one bidder left in the mix. So it is hardly going to make a difference. By keeping it so secret it just portrays the culture of secrecy, mistrust and misunderstanding of council business.
Late, yesterday afternoon, or what some would call early evening, I attended the meeting of the Single Issue Panel (SIP) for Support Services (JV). This meeting was in two parts, the public (for about 5 minutes) and then in Part 2, which the public cannot attend.
The first part of the meeting was on this document HERE. I am sure people will come to your own conclusions after reading the document. However in the report, various Cornwall Council officers remarks said BT-Lite (light for you purists); whilst not matching the original level of savings was nevertheless a good deal and worthy of consideration. However, I am not sure the bar on what is a good deal is set high enough.
The second part of the meeting was about the financial side of the deal including the actual proposed saving to the departments that will be handed over the BT. Now the rules do not allow me to say what was actually discussed. Though I would argue most of the detail is already in the public domain. But rules are rules.
I can say there are savings and jobs will be transferred. Also In-house and the part-privatised options were compared. Again, I can only say there are differences in savings between the different options. We were also told a robust contract (why do I think of the waste contract when someone mentions robust) would be in place to make sure the council is protected. And it was made very clear on the massive financial penalties the council would face if the council decided to leave the contract for no real reason. I think that is all I can say until it all the info becomes public.
The meeting was done and dusted in little over an hour. It will now be up to the Cabinet to make the final decision as whether to issue the Invite to Tender.
After Cornwall Council gave a reluctant green light to the JV option BT-lite, it was the now the turn of the other partners in the venture to give their approval to the deal or say no. The other main partner in the venture, Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) had not decided if it was in or out.
Well, the RCHT has decided post a Board meeting that took place on Thursday. I do not have the full reasons, but the RCHT has said no to the deal.
I am not sure where this leads the council’s BT-lite option after this decision, and if it is now sunk and un-salvageable. These answers will I am sure emerge in the coming days.
I am told legal advice to the RCHT that the reduced scope (option BT-lite) created by Cornwall Council contravenes EU procurement rules and value for money cannot be demonstrated with a single bidder
and here is an email from Kevin Lavery:
Last night (Thursday), the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) met to discuss their continued involvement in the Strategic Partnership. We have now been informed that the board has decided to withdraw from the Partnership.
We are obviously disappointed by this decision and now need to consider the implications with our other Health partners before deciding what course of action is to be taken.
RCHT have issued a statement announcing their decision within the last few minutes. I have been unable to speak to the Leader about this as he is attending a Governance meeting but wanted to ensure that you had the information as quickly as possible.
Things have gone a little quite in the JV front after the full council put the kibosh on the full out-sourcing deal. More will be known in the next few months on the actual deal between Cornwall Council, BT and which ever health partners (if more than one is still left) are still in at the end of the process.
However, the gravy train is still chugging along with this job advert on Cornwall Council’s website HERE
It makes you wonder, as no deal has been signed, nor has the full council agreed that deal. However, the Council is advertising this job…….
What with the story of Kevin Lavery seeking his fortune in the antipodes, the weather and the lead up to the festive holidays, an announcement from RCHT on the Joint Venture could have gone unnoticed. The RCHT has been sitting on its hands (and I do not blame them) whilst Cornwall Council and its Councillors finished off its coup d’etat and then decide which option it feels is right to enter into.
Now in a letter, the RCHT has made a decision:
The leads on to the question of what happens now for the council and the other partners? I am hearing calls from various corners for the whole deal to be scraped because the option the council decided on (6e) is in fact very different from the original tender document. So it could be said the whole process should be re-tendered.
Now lets wait for the reaction from Cornwall Council’s pro-jv gang