Suffolk County Council admits problems with changes

SUFFOLK County Council is unlikely to achieve its ambition of outsourcing all its services, a senior cabinet member has admitted.

The county council is introducing a 'New Strategic Direction' which aims to transfer all its services to the private sector, voluntary bodies, or new 'social enterprises.'

However the councillor with responsibility for adult services Colin Noble accepted it was unlikely to be able to 'divest' all its services to other providers.

He said: 'It is certainly right for us to look at if we can divest all our services – but the fact it we are unlikely to be able to transfer everything away.

'There are likely to be some things that we look at and have to say: 'That is better done in-house'. There is nothing wrong with that.

'I can't say which services will fall into that category – that is something that will be become clear as we go through the process.'

Some managers at the county are known to want to reduce the workforce at Endeavour House to between 200 and 500 contract managers with all the services for Suffolk residents contracted out.

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Mr Noble accepted this would not happen – but was fully behind the principle of transferring services to other operators.

'Where possible, and where the service can be provided better and cheaper by other organisations then it is right we should do that.

'Where the council can best provide the service then we will do that as well.

'This is not a policy driven by dogma – it is a policy we are looking to pursue to ensure we get the best possible services for the people of Suffolk.'

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard of the Liberal Democrats said Mr Noble's comments bore out what her group had been saying about the New Strategic Direction at the county.

She said: 'It is nonsense to talk about divesting all our services and we have been saying that from the very start.

'It is not even good business sense – our experience of Customer Service Direct and other outsourced services suggests that it often costs more than doing things in house.

'We have said all along that this policy has not been properly thought out and this admission seems to bear that out.'