Cornwall Council Puts BT Outsourcing Deal On Hold

Controversial £300m deal is halted by the County Council revolution

Cornwall Council has voted to put on hold a £300 million outsourcing deal after the plan was debated by the full council.

Councillors said that they wanted more time to consider BT’s proposals and to obtain independent advice on the matter. It also plans to explore other options such as setting up an employee-owned mutual.

The controversial deal has proved divisive at the Conservative led council, with the former leader deposed last week.

Cornwall Council Outsourcing Deal Skat

According to tony Collins’ blog Campaign4Change, a number of councillors and senior officers tried to rush through a deal to outsource a range of council and NHS services to BT and CSC, without a vote by the full council. Instead, they planned for final approval to be decided by the council’s chief executive and a handful of councillors.

Unsurprisingly, once the rest of the council caught wind of this, they were unhappy. Voting on a motion proposed by Councillor Andrew Wallis, the council resolved that the outsourcing  deal was “not in the best interests”  of Cornwall.  The senior councillors ignored the motion and continued to negotiate with BT and CSC.

Wallis said that they had “undermined democracy” and accused them of “arrogance”. This prompted a petition which secured more than the 5,000 signatures necessary to debate the proposals in front of the full council as well as a vote of no confidence – which leader Alec Robertson lost. Jim Currie, an outsourcing sceptic, was named Robertson’s replacement and BT issued proposals to individual councillors. CSC withdrew as soon as Robertson was ousted.

David Orr, a former IT analyst and lay union volunteer at Somerset County Council also contracted councillors to share lessons learned from its failed joint-venture with the IBM-led Southwest One. The venture was created in 2007, but failed to deliver the expected cost savings and Southwest One eventually sued Somerset Council.

BT has promised to keep its offer open until next March, but the council has set no deadline for completion of any deal.

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