Shared Services Halted
Shared Services, or to give its full name of Strategic Partnership for Support Services was debated today at Cornwall Council. Just to remind people, the reason for this debate was because a Petition had reached the magic mark of 5000 signatures. In fact, the Petition has officially 6453, as of 22nd October.
After a few hours debate, the motion put forward in response to the Petition was voted on. This motion was proposed by Cllr Graham Walker and seconded by Cllr Andrew Long. However, during the debate, various Councillors proposed several amendments, which were accepted by the proposer and seconder.
The whole motion is as follows:
1) This Council expresses its thanks to all the people who signed the petition and have thereby strongly engaged in the local democratic process.
2) The current proposals (BT) for the Strategic Partnership for Support Services shall not progress to the Invitation to Final Tender (ItT) until after they have been debated and unless approved by a meeting of Cornwall Council.
3) The Chief Executive be requested to investigated fully, as a matter of urgency, all reasonable alternative methods of delivering the Council services covered by the proposals for the said Strategic Partnership, which addresses the need to make efficiency savings and to generate income including; a thin trading JV working with a commercial partner to deliver services outside Cornwall; a shared services project with local NHS and other public services, but without a private sector partner; an employee owned mutual and other in-house options
4) The Council’s draft Business Plan 2012-16 be prepared to reflect recommendations 2 and 3 above.
5) The full Council supports the ongoing work by the SIP for Strategic Services
This was voted on, and carried by 93 for, 7 abstentions, and no-one voting against! Now, let me explain the points
Points 1 and 5 are self-explanatory, so will not require explanation. The second is good news, as the ItT will now not be issued, which was a real possibility after the 26th of October and the various health partners had finally decided their position.
Point three is a great result because throughout the issue, many including myself wanted all the various options looked into in-depth. Only then will we all know which option is the best. Which is what should have happened.
If savings can be made, then surely the public sector should fully benefit, and not a private company. Health and the Council already work closely, and will have to more in the coming years. So surely a venture between the two sectors, could work.
In fact, I believe if the ‘thin JV’ was still on the table most of what has happened in the last month would not have happened. It was the change from this to a ‘Hard JV’ without any support from the Council caused the problem for many of the Councillors. Hard JV, is outsourcing and staff transferred to a private company, where Soft JV is more in-house.
Point four, stops the ItT from being issues even if the Cabinet or the CEO wants to issue it. As the Cabinet can only implement the Business Plan, and if something is not included, it cannot be carried out.
Now no motion is perfect, and I am sure some people will still be disappointed, but I really believe the vote today was a massive step in the right direction.