The news that Somerset County Council has spent millions of pounds to settle its dispute with South West One is just the latest twist in a scandalous story of misjudgement and waste. Right from the start, when the deal was negotiated by the Liberal Democrats, it should have been obvious that the idea of letting a multi-national company handle the council’s money was a bad one.
It has now cost £2 million in legal fees alone to reach a settlement. And the council will be paying over millions on top of that – though we are not allowed to know how much.
Under the deal, services such as procurement and property management are being taken back in house by the council. But the bad news is that the contract with South West One in many other areas will continue.
“Lib Dems simply did not do their homework”
Graham Forsyth, Labour candidate for Chard North in the forthcoming Somerset County Council elections, is not alone in believing that it is shocking to think that front line services for people in Somerset are being cut, while money lines the pockets of lawyers who have renegotiated a contract that should never have been signed in the first place.
Graham says “So the longstanding dispute between Somerset County Council and services provider South West One has been settled. The county council says an agreement has been reached to resolve not only the legal dispute between the parties but also service issues raised by the council.
The SouthWest One experiment was set up by the Lib Dem group led by Chard’s own Jill Shortland, it has proved to be a complete and utter financial disaster. Asking an American multinational company like IBM to run and manage so many critical ‘back office’ services was always a strange call, but the Lib Dems simply did not do their homework and this has given in the current Tory administration the ‘perfect storm’ of opportunity to wield their cost cutting axe.”
‘Lib Dems are no different and offer no opposition’
“Just like the Liberal Democrats at Westminster who stand by their Conservative partners and see the privatisation of the NHS, a reduction in every kind of public service and now the cruel bedroom tax. Your Lib Dem Somerset County Councilors are no different and offer no opposition to the Somerset County cuts being pushed though by this Tory administration.
“We could put people first rather than profit and try and keep many of the jobs and services in Somerset as our young people need jobs and training and of course a future.”
The saga of South West One should be a warning that the drive towards privatisation and outsourcing can only end badly.