Monday 11 February 2013
Statement from Ealing Unison on the privatisation proposals
I have just received this statement from Ealing Unison
Ealing's Labour Council invites tenders for privatisation of the Libraries
Two bids to take over Ealing Libraries are being considered by Ealing's Labour Council at this moment. The saving the Council wants to make by this wholesale removal of a service and all 15 Libraries in Ealing from the public domain is only £250,000. The majority of this saving is said to be from 'business rates'. UNISON is dismayed that £6.4 million can be spent by the Council on consultants yet £250, 000 cannot be found to avoid privatisation.
Considering this Labour Council was not voted in to privatise services, nor has its stated aims been a privatisation of services but the opposite, it seems strange that this is its first port of call to find a saving that is small compared to other savings it could make instead. The Council also see no reason to consult the public about this as they say there will be no detrimental impact on the service offered to the public.
The history of privatisation in Ealing is that it fails. The return to Council ownership in recent years of Housing Benefits, Housing and Highways are all examples of the failure of privatisation. All those services are better run and managed and producing a better service to the public now returned to direct control and management by the Council. Private companies seek to make a profit and make savings by reducing staff numbers and pay the staff they recruit less money. In Libraries a private company taking over the service may also seek to use unpaid and untrained volunteers, rather than qualified and paid staff.
It is a risk to Council tax-payers money therefore to out-source a service that on the evidence of history will have to be brought back in-house in a few years with the costs this entails. It is our community that is disempowered by such actions. As Ealing residents we own our libraries, outsourcing takes them out of our hands and out of accountable control.
Ealing UNISON therefore urges the Labour Council to reject any option to privatise the Library service at the Cabinet meeting on 18 February and to find other ways to save £250k than the wholesale privatisation of all Ealing's Libraries.
It is also Ealing Unison's understanding that the proposal to privatise the library service has been put back a month until March due to last minute complications and that Harrow Library service will be part of the bid and that Harrow will be in charge of administration resulting in three posts being put at risk in Ealing. I've also been told that the preferred bidders are the usual suspects and we all know who they are!