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Campaign over 'lamentable' commissioning plans from Bromley Council
‘LAMENTABLE’ proposals to change cash-strapped Bromley Council’s services have attracted outcry and prompted a campaign.
There are plans for the borough to become a commissioning authority meaning virtually all services could be outsourced along with possible changes to employee’s terms and conditions and redundancies.
With demand for services increasing, rising inflation and the reduction in Government grants, the council - which already pays Veolia for waste collections - is considering commissioning all services.
This means the council will no longer be the default provider of services and will instead compete with private companies and social enterprises to win contracts.
Research by The Guardian newspaper in January this year revealed around a quarter of councils are considering doing the same.
Paul Rooney from Bromley Cuts Concern said: "It would be a disaster.
"Bromley’s track record with this is lamentable.
"I don’t like the word ‘outsourcing’ - it’s basically privatisation.
"It often ends up more expensive than in-house services and the quality of the care is worse."
Unite is planning a public campaign and encouraging people to attend the council meeting in September where the final decision will be taken.
Regional officer Onay Kasab said: "There will be redundancies in the long run.
"They are already doing this with care and reablement services which will affect vulnerable people and their families.They call it commissioning and we call it privatisation."
Some councillors are also concerned about the proposed changes.
Labour councillor John Getgood, who represents the Penge and Cator ward, said: "Profit is not necessarily a dirty word but why should someone be making a profit out of the provision of basic needs and human rights.
"Really it is a drive to reduce services to the minimum they can get away with at low costs.
"People haven’t voted for it - it was not in the Conservative manifesto in the last election and I suspect it will be a fait accompli for the next one. Where is the democracy there?"
Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr said: "It is already a commissioning authority especially when you look at companies like Veolia.
"It is more about value for money and finding the most efficient way to deliver things but we also want to protect frontline services.
"It’s not just about the private sector, it is also about involving organisations like social enterprises as well."
A Bromley Council spokesman said: "Much publicised cuts in government funding mean we have to make over £55 million in budget savings over the next four years.
"We must continue to scrutinise everything we do and the best, most efficient way to do it but notwithstanding these financial pressures, be assured this council remains committed to building a better Bromley."
The decision for Bromley to become a commissioning authority will be taken at a council meeting in September.
For more information on public meetings on the issue, visit this website.
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