Lewes District Council chosing expensive option

The Tory administration at Lewes District Council have chosen to ignore the information provided by their own officers and the recommendations of the Liberal Democrats and instead to award the Grounds Maintenance Contract to a private contractor.

Despite it being clearly shown that savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds could be made, they chose to commit the council and the residents of the district to a contract of up to eight years.

The advantages of bringing the contract in-house were clearly explained and evidenced, but Conservative Leader Rob Blackman, his Tory colleagues and supported by their UKIP cabinet member, chose to ignore the financial advantages offered by a council-run team. With savings of £3.8 million to find over the next five years and funding from Central Government less than certain, Council Leader Rob Blackman’s decision seems bizarre. He calls himself an ‘entrepreneur’, but the failure to grasp the opportunity to opt for an entrepreneurial approach for the authority, will reaffirm the belief of many that he is unfit to lead and that he is incapable of making decisions for the benefit of both the council and its resients.

The business acumen of he and his appointed Cabinet colleagues is badly lacking in knowledge and professionalism. Other departments within the council will now suffer because of the decision made at the secret meeting of Cabinet on Monday. The saving opportunities that could have been realised by taking the Grounds Maintenance contract in-house, may well mean that Important services like Housing obligations and other vital services will have to be cut back in the future as central government reduces local council funding. It also not only offered saving opportunities, but the very real potential of additional revenue stream.

Providing services to other authorities and housing associations, etc. and further providing economies of scale, therefore reducing costs further to our residents. It was also shown that an in-house maintenance team would give the Council a flexible workforce to help deal with emergencies like the recent flooding, Bonfire Night and elections. The Conservatives have chosen to turn their backs on a huge opportunity to save a considerable amount of money and true-to-form have instead chosen to award it to a private contractor. Private companies are not in it for love, but for profit. This margin could be put back into the pockets of our residents and not the pockets of shareholders.

The time is right to bring this contract back as a council-run service. The expertise are there and the facts are indisputable, but the Conservatives seem to have no trust or confidence in their officers As this is a senior management team they handpicked not even a year ago, perhaps this is more a reflection of the fact that they can’t even trust themselves to do the right thing.

Cllr Steve Saunders

Lewes District (Newhaven

Valley) Lib Dem