Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire have ‘called in’ a decision of the ruling Conservatives that would lead to massive changes to the way the council runs its services. The main thrust of the Tory proposals is a “vision” in which the council provides fewer services directly, but instead commissions them from external providers. The vision was agreed by the ruling Cabinet at the beginning of October.
The call in procedure means that more councillors will meet to look at the proposals in greater detail and be able comment on them. The meeting, which is open to members of the public, will be held on Tuesday 2nd November at 10am at Nibley Court Offices, Westerleigh Business Park, 3 Turner Drive, Yate, BS37 5YU.
The Labour councillors have given nine reasons why they think the council needs to think again.
Labour Leader Councillor Roger Hutchinson (Labour, Filton) commented:
“We are concerned that the council is rushing towards cuts that have not been adequately discussed with the public, partner organisations, staff or elected councillors. As the council expects some of its services to be taken up by town and parish councils and community groups, the Tories need to provide some evidence that these bodies are willing and able to step in and that these services would be available for residents across South Gloucestershire.”
“South Gloucestershire is rushing ahead with plans for new structures before the financial position is clear. I want the council to be in the best position to deal with future difficulties, and rushing ahead on ideological grounds is not the right way forward.”
The nine reasons given for the call in are:
- The vision sets out far-reaching changes that are premature and driven by dogma.
- The avowed aim is to help the national government in its aims rather than ensuring the delivery of quality services in South Gloucestershire.
- A clear structure has already been developed in advance of the review promised in paragraph 16 of the Cabinet report.
- Key decisions on the future of council provision and organisation are already emerging without adequate engagement with the public, partners, staff, unions and elected members.
- The driver for transformational big change is cost reduction and other factors are being disregarded.
- The vision commits the council to increased enabling and commissioning, rather than provision, of vital services.
- Enabled and commissioned services will suffer from a lack of democratic accountability by further distancing them from publicly elected councillors.
- There is as yet no evidence that Town and Parish Councils and community groups will have the capacity or willingness to take on services that may otherwise be lost.
- The proposed changes to staff terms will seriously harm staff morale and this council’s reputation.
More info: Agenda for Tuesday’s special meeting of the Corporate Co-ordination Select Committee [PDF, 317KB]
Source: Labour Councillors on South Gloucestershire Council