Council is considering privatisation of services

COUNCIL chiefs are considering privatising services in an effort to save millions of pounds.

North Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley has told officers at the council to ensure the authority continues to provide value for money as it cuts its budget by £40m, laying off hundreds of workers in the process.

Among the proposals being looked is going into partnership with private-sector companies, as well as other public-sector organisations and voluntary and community groups.

Discussions are taking place to see if some services could be provided more cheaply by outside bodies to help save the council money.

Mrs Arkley, along with senior staff and councillors, has visited four other councils to see how their partnership initiatives work.

Services that have been contracted out by other councils include handling benefit claims, school support, drainage and street cleaning.

Mrs Arkley, pictured, said: “We are asking difficult and critical questions about delivery and looking for measures that will cost less.

“We are totally committed to providing better outcomes and quality of services for our residents, our businesses and visitors.

“There are some big challenges ahead, not least of which is continuing to provide high-quality services with less immediate resources.

“Old established models have to be questioned, not just to deliver the required savings, but to give people a better quality of service.

“And to deliver better quality in a time of change, we need to ensure we follow a clear set of principles to guide us to our eventual aim.

“We can’t rule anything in or out at this stage.

“We are fundamentally looking at every part of the business, how it is done, how it could be done and how we can mobilise our resources and expertise with that of others to best effect.

“We have begun taking stock by looking at everything we do – how do we do it, with what partners and what it is our service users want?

“While facing up to our financial challenges, we will strive to make our customer services better.

“We must set a new direction to live within the reduced financial resources available to us and make taxpayers’ money go as far as it can.

“It is inevitable that as we go forward, we will be providing public services in a very different way.

“More and more, we will work in partnership with others and seek to empower people to take more responsibility themselves.”

She added: “We want to improve the opportunities, social and economic wellbeing of people who live, learn, work in or visit North Tyneside.”