Crisis council plans PPP to save services

Crisis-hit Walsall Council is planning a partnership with the private sector
to try and turn around its performance.

The proposed 10-year deal follows heavy criticism of council services by the
Department of Health, schools’ watchdog Ofsted and the Audit Commission.

Under the £30m joint-venture partnership, HR would be outsourced along with
a number of frontline services.

Deb Clarke, head of personnel and development at Walsall Council, said the
deal would improve the council’s efficiency and upgrade its IT capability.

"The move will be of benefit to the council as it provides the finance
to invest in new technology that it could not otherwise afford," she said.

Liverpool City Council formed a similar public-private partnership with BT
in April last year.

Between 50 and 100 of Walsall Council’s 1,400 staff would be seconded to the
joint-venture company as part of a new service centre, but would remain council
employees on their original terms and conditions.

Clarke stressed that there would be no compulsory redundancies and the
council would re-deploy staff where necessary.

The new joint-venture company would run HR administration, payroll and
recruitment through a new high-tech service centre. Staff would be able to
receive payslips online and inform the council of sickness absence via the

It would also control frontline road services, including refuse collection,
road maintenance, and finance processes, including invoicing and council tax

Clarke believes the partnership, which is set to be agreed in September,
would also help the council meet the 2005 deadline to deliver essential
services online.

"We are making good progress on e-government, but this will really help
to improve the number of online transactions as well as the quality," she

Walsall Council employees are being asked to suggest names for the new

By Paul Nelson

Comments are closed.