Radical privatisation plans which would have seen child protection outsourced for the first time have been put on hold due to immense public opposition in Suffolk.
The proposed “virtual council”, in which all services would be floated off to private firms, has been rejected by Suffolk’s public, who wrote petitions and staged protests in opposition to the idea.
In response, council Tory leader Mark Bee has called for time to reflect further on the proposals.
“I’d like the time between now and the council meeting on 26th May to be a time for reflection and review,” Bee said in a statement. “I believe that the direction in which we are heading is the right one, but that we need to be very clear about our aims.”
Graham Newman, Suffolk portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, said he believed public opposition was the result of the council’s failure to communicate clearly.
“People just don’t understand what it is we were proposing,” he told Community Care. “They think it means these services are going to be scrapped. I think this was badly handled by the council from a publicity view point – the protests are mainly about people not knowing what the final outcome will be.”
Newman said that while the council is considering the outsourcing of child protection that decision was currently not on the table and would be considered “much further down the line”.
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