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.

6 comments

  • Johns

    This looks like a very reasonable result and it is difficult to comprehend why the individuals running this project seemingly did not undertake a full detailed options and risk appraisal at the outset with equal consideration given to a practical range of alternatives.

    We’ve heard much about the cost of this project so far (I gather £1.8 million of public money for the Council alone, plus additional undocumented costs for the Health Trusts in Cornwall). However, we’ve not heard much about who is accountable for the scope, direction and management of the procurement phase of this project.

    When we also hear how cash strapped the Council is and how financially challenged our Health Trusts are, shouldn’t someone examine why following substantial costs, we ended up with a single option which seems to have been entirely re-shaped from the original concept by private companies and masked from the wider Council by “confidentiality clauses”.

    Whilst “competitive dialogue” allows for some development of a proposal, I find it astonishing that this one has been allowed to develop to become almost unrecognisable. What control has been exerted here?

    Fortunately the Councillors have stepped up to this one and seem to have given a very basic lesson in project management.

    Now that we have a sensible ‘stop and consider’ point – I think the Council should also look very closely at whether it is remotely desireable to contemplate any option which involves only a single bidder (BT).

    If any form of JV is assessed to be the best option – surely we cannot ask a single tenderer to then price it up – this is rife with the possibility of legal challenge and is potentially far from in the best interests of the public purse.

    There are some real governance and public accountability issues here, I’d suggest.

  • worried worker

    I agree with Johns; I’d like to know who is accountable for the scope and why this mutated into such a sneaky, underhanded farce. Make no mistake, something unsavoury was happening here; I’d like to know the exact details of what, I’d like to know why and I’d like that person to be held up and accountable, as there’s nothing to stop them trying again when all the attention has died down.

  • Roadshows being held , out laying proposals they want this sorted by December,Bt will be coming down to talk to staff over the next few months, business as usual unless it gets stoped or new proposals get taken up.

    Apparently Bt can be more open now that they are the only bidder!

  • Roadshows being held , out laying proposals they want this sorted by December,Bt will be coming down to talk to staff over the next few months, business as usual unless it gets stoped or new proposals get taken up.

    Apparently Bt can be more open now that they are the only bidder!

  • Baz from Bodmin

    I’m interested to understand what you think “detailed” means in respect of the options that are to be worked out. No timescale was set in Council, although it was mentioned – this seems to have left the Leader open to bring the “detailed” options back to Council in December – do you support that timescale and the quality documents it will produce?

  • Baz from Bodmin

    I’m interested to understand what you think “detailed” means in respect of the options that are to be worked out. No timescale was set in Council, although it was mentioned – this seems to have left the Leader open to bring the “detailed” options back to Council in December – do you support that timescale and the quality documents it will produce?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook