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£5m BID TO HELP DISPLAY THE HOARD

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Reporting local life since 1854

Monday, March 12, 2012

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INSIDE SPORT

THE BAD

THE GOOD

SEE PAGES 6&7

PAGES 48-52 PAGES 46-47

... AND THE FRUSTRATED

5,000 STAFF TO LEAVE COUNCIL

PAGE 45 Pictures: Mark Scott, Phil Greig

Concerns for job security when roles transfer to private company E.coli school to

BY ALEX CAMPBELL

alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

THOUSANDS of school cleaners, cooks, grounds staff and support workers will have their jobs transferred to a private company under plans to take £75 million of services out of council control. Services provided to more than 400 schools by Staffordshire County Council will instead be sold to them by a private sector partner. It will lead to the transfer of 5,000 local authority employees to the private firm. Council officials today said the authority is acting to protect jobs as services face being eroded by private sector competition. The transfer will effectively make the county

council a partner in an independentlymanaged business which will take on full responsibility for delivering services – and decide how it wants to run them to make a profit. It is the biggest reform of its kind and a first for school services locally. County councillor Ian Parry, cabinet member for transformation, said: “If we carry on as we are, the chances are we’ll have to downsize these services yearon-year as more of this business fragments. We are trying to avoid death by a thousand cuts. “My message to staff would be to reassure them that this is a positive move. Standing still is not an option.” Staff will initially be transPLEDGE: Ian Parry.

ferred to their new employer on the same pay and conditions. But the private firm will have full control, and the council, which currently has around 12,200 employees, may eventually withdraw from the partnership. Mr Parry said: “Out-sourcing means inevitable job-shedding because companies want the business and not necessarily the people. Starting a new venture like this means we start with the people. “We’re not just trying to hive off the services. That’s why we will keep a seat at the table. “Our job is to provide public services, and where the private sector can provide them better, with our supervision initially, that is a better option.” Cabinet members will approve the plans later this month, with a winning

bidder due to be appointed in spring 2013 and the new venture operating from the autumn. School governors today raised concerns over the move. Independent county councillor Bill Day, a governor at Moorside High School, in Cellarhead, said: “We’ll have to scrutinise this very closely. I have concerns for the standards of service provided to schools and for the security of the staff.” Catherine Bennett, governor at Churnet View Middle School in Leek, said: “I just hope this partnership makes standards improve.”

shut for a week A PRIMARY school at the centre of an E.coli outbreak will remain closed for at least another week. Parents at Friarswood Primary School, in Newcastle, have been told about the extended closure via email. It is to allow more time to deep-clean the school and analyse samples taken from pupils. Headteacher Lindsey Wilmer told parents at the weekend: “The cleaning and testing will take longer than expected. It will be necessary for the school to remain closed for at least the whole of next week. We are constantly reviewing the situation.” Three pupils have been diagnosed with confirmed strains of E.coli 0157. The school has been ruled out as the source of the outbreak.

WRESTLER’S VOW TO SUE NHS SEE PAGE 4

Are you affected by the deal? Email us at letters@thesentinel.co.uk Comment: Page 10

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