Hereford & Worcester

Herefordshire Council may privatise more services

Herefordshire Council has said it is looking at outsourcing a further 38 services including planning to a private company in order to save money.

In 2003 the authority employed company Amey to take on several of its services, including street cleaning, highways maintenance and grass cutting.

It said that as that 10-year contract was coming up for renewal, it was looking at what else could be included.

The council said it was not "looking at any redundancies at the moment".

If the extra 38 services, which include car parking enforcement, housing development, planning, archaeology, environmental health and pest control, bereavement services, licensing, markets and catering, are also privatised, the contract could potentially be worth £1bn over 10 years.

Council officials said the plans were only at their "very early stages" and were only looking at the possibility of outsourcing further services.

Richard Ball, from the council's commissioning department, said: "We are not looking at redundancies at the moment.

"This is very much about making sure we get the right quality of services. We are not under a commitment to any other outsourcing."

'Big experiment'

Steve Akers, regional Unison organiser for Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said it was important the council remained "transparent" over any decisions it made.

He said: "It's a big experiment.

"The spin is that this is about value for money and good quality services, but there are no guarantees of that."

The authority said it would be starting a consultation process over the plans, and will be holding a series of events from 20 September to explain them.

The Hereford and Worcester Chamber of Commerce has backed the proposals, saying they could potentially be good for the local economy.

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