Leader: Council services

There is a real need to deliver services cheaply

THE level of interest from companies willing to bid to take over the running of some council services is not surprising considering the vast sums of money involved.

More than 130 firms have indicated to the council that may be willing to take over 17 separate services the council is considering outsourcing.

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Although council leader Jenny Dawe has already described the exercise as not being akin to privatisation through either the "back, side or front door" it is a view not shared by the unions.

They have said that if the council is seeking efficiencies it should talk to them about how to achieve them rather than put services out to private tender.

The News has warned often over the last few years for the first time in a long time there is a very real threat – and perhaps a need – to shed jobs in the public sector.

As part of a 90 million savings package the council has initially revealed plans to shed 700 jobs. Around 570 have already been lost through voluntary redundancy and natural wastage and the council must now decided whether to make some employees redundant. It is not a step it will take lightly.

But the need for such harsh measures are set against a background of a real need to cut costs and find cheaper ways of delivering services.

On the other hand positive steps are being taken to develop other services such as the libraries service.

After a recent upsurge in usage of the service the council is now considering whether to increase public access by lengthening weekend openings. It will inevitably lead to staff working patterns changing and increased costs.

But the move has to be viewed in a positive light as it is a rare example of the council tailoring services to meet the demands of the public rather than itself or its own staff.

Verity's legacy

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THE award of Gold Blue Peter Badge will come nowhere near compensating the family of Verity Young for their tragic loss.

But it must give them some degree of comfort to know that her death was not entirely in vain as she has proved a lasting inspiration to hundreds to donate blood and thus help save the lives of others. It must be of some consolation her legacy lives on today and the well deserved badge will serve as a lasting memento for her sisters and family to treasure.