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Privatisation Plans Face Challenge

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:00am 4th September 2012.

Controversial plans to privatise parts of Cornwall's libraries and benefits could take a hit on Tuesday.

Councillors are voting on a motion demanding the scrapping of a joint venture to run public services like libraries, benefit payments and IT services.

Critics are worried it is being rushed through and will hit services.

Stuart Roden speaks for the union Unison in the Duchy. He said: "This is the biggest contract that Cornwall Council and the public sector in Cornwall, has ever let. It's much bigger than the incinerator project and we all know the problems that have been experienced there. Much bigger than the refuse contract with Cory, we all know the problems that have been experienced there."

Andrew Wallis, Councillor for Porthleven and Helston South, put forward the motion calling for the plan to be ditched. He said: "Sometimes you make a few small steps into joint ventures, but this is not a few small steps, this is one massive leap into it. We are sprinting, that's the easiest way to explain it, we are sprinting into privatisation."

A tender for the project is being drawn up, with BT and Computer Sciences Corporation in the running to be the private partner.

Cornwall Council insists the joint venture will save cash and create hundreds of jobs.

Steve Double, the Council's portfolio holder for environment, waste and shared services, said: "The purpose of finding a Strategic Partner is to create jobs in Cornwall and realise savings, both for the Council and our health partners. We know we are facing a difficult situation, with significant cuts expected in our funding from the Government, increased pressure on our services and low forecasts for economic growth.

"We know that we will have to make substantial savings in our budget over the next few years. This project will enable us to save up to £5 million within the first two years, savings we would have to find from other services if we do not go ahead. This means we can protect highly valued services such as libraries and one shop shops from the impact of future budget cuts."

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