Councils should be working together and not outsourcing

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MEMBERS of Northumberland Labour Group are surprised at North Tyneside Council’s decision to investigate outsourcing services into the private sector (News Guardian, October 20).

For the last two years Northumberland County Council’s officers have been working with North Tyneside to explore and introduce shared services where it was beneficial to do so.

Both councils have seen benefits from the partnership, particularly in the field of fostering and adoption, where many thousands of pounds have been saved through the closure of the ‘out of area’ loophole.

Yet we see what appears to the council turning its back on what could have been a productive growth area creating much needed jobs across both authorities in favour of outsourcing and the loss of democratic control over services essential to the communities of North Tyneside.

Councils engage with and deliver many things that cannot be drawn into contracts – weather conditions, traffic problems, people problems, accidents and emergencies.

And with North Tyneside being situated geographically where it is, coastal and port health problems all play havoc with schedules.

Local government contractors may lead councils into believing outsourced services can be delivered more cheaply, but they tend to flood contracts with rate-fixers, estimators and quantity surveyors to extract as much profit as they can from any variation or diversion from the norm, leaving councils to pay for work they currently have in house departments accommodate in their budgets.

We would urge North Tyneside Council to look at the benefits for local people and communities which are being put under threat.

GRANT DAVEY

Leader

Northumberland Labour Group