Cornwall Council rejects full 'joint venture' project, opts for compromise
4:08pm Tuesday 11th December 2012 in Falmouth/Penryn
CORNWALL Council is to enter into partnership with BT to run some of its services in an attempt to save money and secure jobs.
However, the controversial 'joint venture' project will only go ahead for a few services after councillors rejected plans for a much larger deal.
Under the new plan, IT services, document management, payroll, and tele-health services will now be handed to BT to run.
The decision was taken at a meeting of Cornwall Council at New County Hall on Tuesday.
Councillors were given three options to choose from: *Option one, where services would be retained in-house and controlled solely by the council.
*Option 6A, where services including procurement, benefit payments, libraries and one-stop shops, human resources, IT services, mail handling and payroll are to be run in a joint venture with BT.
*Option 6E, or the 'light' option, where fewer services would be included in a smaller deal with BT.
An initial vote saw option 6A rejected, with 71 councillors voting against the plan, and just 30 voting for.
A vote on keeping services in-house was then rejected by 50 votes to 46 before option 6E was eventually adopted.
During the debate, members displayed very different attitudes towards the proposals.
Porthleven and Helston South councillor Andrew Wallis said: “The report says the in-house option is viable, so why don't we support that?
“In these tough economic times the in-house option is low risk, it builds on the successes the council has already made, and there is no complex contract.
“These contracts have cost many other authorities dear, let us make sure that does not happen to Cornwall.”
Falmouth Boslowick councillor Mike Varney told the meeting: “It is a no brainer as far as I am concerned.
“It is quite easy to say I would prefer in-house staff, but the reality is that it is about actually delivering that.
“I do not want to be the person who has to tell them they are losing their jobs, and I am convinced that is what is going to happen.
“This is a chance to engage, it is not privatisation, it is a partnership.
“I believe we need to go for the full monty, and I urge other members to do the same.”
Former council leader Alec Robertson, who lost his job after a vote of no-confidence over the joint venture proposals, attended the meeting, but did not speak.