City chiefs accused of ‘hard sell’ over privatisation

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CITY council chiefs have been accused of attempting a “hard sell” over the privatisation of services while refusing to discuss plans to keep operations in-house.

Amid angry scenes at a debate last night, members of the public questioned councillors and senior officials over the future of rubbish collection and street cleaning.

The council is scheduled to vote on whether to hand the environmental services contract to the private facilities firm Enterprise or keep them in-house.

Director of services for communities Mark Turley said that “already across just about every council service you can think of there are services being provided in-house, and there are services being provided in partnership and under contract”.

He displayed pictures of council and private workers doing the same jobs currently to suggest there is no difference to the service the public would receive. He added: “This isn’t that new, it doesn’t need to be that scary and we should be a little bit reassured by that.”

However, audience members – many of them council workers – reacted angrily to the failure to go through in-house alternative in any detail.

Unison branch president John Stevenson said the presentation was a “shameful hard sell”.

He said: “It might be that the in-house bid can’t match the promises the privatisation bid makes, but at least let us have it front of us in a fair manner, rather than some marketing ploy we’ve had to endure tonight.”

Council leader Jenny Dawe told the Evening News: “Every poll, survey and focus group we have carried out has told us that it is the quality of service that is important and not who empties their bins and sweeps their streets.”

The vote on the environmental contract will be held in three weeks.