Bid to force debate on council's Capita deal fails
A LAST-DITCH attempt to force further debate on the outsourcing of 4,000 council jobs and dozens of school service was rejected this afternoon.
Staffordshire County Council's corporate review committee reviewed the Conservative-run authority's Capita deal at a meeting today after opposition councillors formally 'called in' the cabinet's decision.
They raised concerns that key details approved by cabinet members were not available to a scrutiny committee responsible for examining plans as they were developed.
Members also criticised Capita's 51 per cent controlling stake in the new venture, questioned the viability of the firm's ambitious growth plans and accused the council of failing to disclose its strategy if the joint venture fails.
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Labour leader councillor Derek Davis said: "I run my own company and I have 51 per cent of my shares. Nobody tells me what I'm doing.
"It's not a joint venture if somebody has 51 per cent. I think this is a loss of democracy."
Councillor Ian Parry, cabinet member for finance and education, said: "If we were a company, not a council, this would be seen as a great news story."
The committee rejected a proposal tabled by Mr Davis and supported by independent member Paul Atkins to refer the decision back to a meeting of the full council for further debate - and consideration of the trade unions' case against the plans.
Capita will pay £31.4 million for its stake in the new business and will decide how to run everything from cleaning and catering to special needs support and outdoor education from April.
The outsourcing firm will invest £50 million in the services in an attempt to lead the market and claims 1,600 jobs will be created in Staffordshire as it expands to swallow up education support services elsewhere in the country.
One council officer and one elected councillor will sit on the joint venture's board.
Mr Parry added that the authority will remain accountable for the quality of services.