Councils pledge to fight for in-house services

Key services must be kept in-house if councils are to fulfil
their community leadership roles effectively, delegates

A motion in favour of councils retaining a direct provider role,
rather than contracting out services to a third party, was passed
with a two to one majority at a session attended by more than 100

The proposer of the motion, Dennis Reed, director of the Local
Government Information Unit, said it would be “complete folly” to
strip local government of its core services and core business. Any
such move would have serious repercussions for accountability and
democracy. He said the introduction of “diversity targets”, such as
those proposed in the recently-published Institute for Public
Policy Research Commission’s report, would amount to the return of
compulsory competitive tendering, forcing local authorities to
prove that a certain proportion of their services had been

Reed said that providing services in-house enabled councils to
lead by example, react to emergencies and ensure the achievement of
corporate objectives. He questioned whether a private-sector
provider, whose legal responsibilities would be first and foremost
to its shareholders rather than its service-users, could ever share
public sector values.

Opposing the motion, Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Greg
Wilkinson denied that outsourcing services would amount to
privatisation or result in councils losing power, leadership or

“I accept that responsibilities and budgets are going to help
local government retain credibility,” Wilkinson said. “But what
brings about real credibility is ensuring that services are
excellent, irrespective of who provides them.

“Credibility comes from being pragmatic, not dogmatic,” he

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