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Labour calls in ‘flawed’ Tory privatisation plans
LABOUR councillors have criticised proposals to privatise hundreds of office roles in Worcestershire schools.
County Hall’s Tory leadership wants to hand over the roles of school support staff, potentially to the private sector. The employees work in back office roles and cost taxpayers upwards of £750,000 each year.
But Labour councillors said the decision by Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet to start a six-week consultation period with headteachers is “flawed” and have ‘called it in’ for further discussion.
Labour group leader Councillor Peter McDonald said: “We feel the county is rushing in to removing services to schools and will not make a considered decision in six weeks. There are more than 200 schools to be contacted as well as the unions and governors. This is such a serious issue we cannot let this be railroaded through as the Tories wish.
“There are up to 400 jobs at stake as well as the education of our children to think of. This exercise is flawed. The matter will now have to be considered by the overview and scrutiny performance board before it can go any further.”
Coun McDonald also issued a statement distancing his party from commments made by Coun Alan Amos to your Worcester News last week in which he called for the whole of County Hall’s education department to be closed down.
Coun Amos said the growing number of schools switching to academies meant there was little need for the department and the move could save the cash-strapped authority about £1 million.
But Coun McDonald said: “The Labour group does not agree with the remarks attributed to Coun Alan Amos regarding the closing down of the education department as his comments do not reflect labour party policy.”
Labour councillor Paul Denham, the deputy Mayor of Worcester, said: “The services are paid for by schools. It really does show that the proposals are more about politics rather than the need to save money. There are 400 staff who could lose their jobs so these proposals really show little care for the county or staff. “This is a valuable service which could be sold to schools beyond the county boundary rather than simply getting rid of it.”
But Coun Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families, said: “There’s nothing that tells me we won’t be able to have good dialogue with schools.
“Nothing has been rushed through, it’s a consultation. There’s plenty of opportunity to contact me and the other cabinet member.
“They’ve called it in and we respect they’ve done that.”
Coun John Campion, cabinet member for transformation and commissioning, said: “The move by Peter McDonald is both irresponsible and not in the best interests of education in the county. This delay will create further uncertainty at a time when our schools need stability. The Labour group are using a technicality to try and thwart a democratic decision.”
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