Shropshire

Shropshire Council business plan 'leaves unanswered questions'

Plans to create a private company to run some council services in Shropshire "leave many unanswered questions", Unison says.

Shropshire Council agreed on Wednesday to push ahead with proposals to move 1,700 staff to a new holding company, making the authority "more efficient".

The services involved control a combined budget of £36m.

Rick Tudor from Unison said it was not what staff signed up for and residents would want services from their council.

He said: "We have not had direct discussions with the council so can only go on council publications and reports that they have released to councillors.

"The council report says it intends to move on without delay and our concerns are, why?

"They've not consulted with us and they've not consulted with staff about their concerns.

"We believe they have been in contact with external companies but they have not told us that."

He added that "lots of things remain unclear" and said he expected that people living in Shropshire would want their council services provided by the council.

'Profit reinvested'

"This is certainly changing the ethos of how local authority public work is done," he added.

"It's not what residents signed up to and it leaves more questions unanswered than have been answered."

A 90-day consultation is due to be held with staff and unions.

Services such as catering, cleaning, facilities management, printing, finance, personnel, legal and IT are all expected to be affected.

The plans mean that the services could use extra capacity in staffing and staff time to bid for contracts from other public or private organisations.

Speaking on Wednesday after the plans were approved, Keith Barrow, leader of the Conservative-led council, said the move would have "little effect" on staff or their terms of employment, including pensions.

Any profit would be returned to the council, to spend on other services or projects, and would help to secure jobs, he added.

The holding company is called Inspiring Partnerships and Enterprise (IP&E). Other services could also follow in 2013, the council said.

The authority currently employs about 6,500 people.

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