So, this is how Conservative-run Croydon Council does “business”…
The council consults residents about library services. After receiving an overwhelming response that the people of Croydon want all their public libraries maintained and to continue to be run by the council, senior Tory councillors decide to go ahead and privatise the library service anyway, an option that was never mentioned in the consultation.
Croydon, together with Wandsworth’s Conservative-run council, then puts the management of their libraries out to tender in a money-saving joint wheeze. Wandsworth chooses the best-value deal for their residents. Croydon chooses the worst (this according to figures released by Wandsworth). The two councils go their separate ways over library management, thus negating a major plank of the argument about cost savings.
The bid chosen by Croydon Council happens to be that from a subsidiary company of the same firm of builders which is running a £450 million property development joint venture with … Croydon Council. What a small world! Uncanny!
The chosen company, John Laing Integrated Services, is picked by Croydon despite the fact that the company is dumping as many local authority contracts as it can, since it cannot seem to squeeze as much profit from councils as it would like. To many, JLIS appears to be a company that is exiting the library management business everywhere but in Croydon.
Then, just as Croydon Council is about to hand the juicy £30 million, eight-year contract to JLIS, the company pulls out after spotting that they would have to take on the pension liabilities of their newly acquired staff. Can’t have an employer actually fulfilling its responsibilities to its staff, can we?
Croydon Council’s Tories, apparently desperate to give the £30 million contract to JLIS, allow them to re-bid, this time without the troublesome pension bit. To the surprise of no one, the winner is… JLIS. The losers are the Council Tax-payers of Croydon, who end up paying for the shambolic tendering process.
Contracts signed, JLIS takes over the running of Croydon libraries at the start of October 2013. Within three weeks, Croydon Council is hailing it as “a success” (though they don’t state by what measure).
Come October 18, JLIS is sold, to Carillion, another firm more usually associated with construction work. What a small world! Uncanny!
Does this chain of events give anyone else some cause for concern over the use of public money and the procurement processes at Croydon Council?
According to reports in the trade press this afternoon, up to 1,500 staff are being transferred to Carillion (presumably with their pension rights in tact) from JLIS, which turned over £65 million according to its most recent accounts.
“JLIS has made significant progress over the last few years, but it no longer fits within our core strategy,” was the comment from Adrian Ewer, the chief executive of John Laing. Presumably JLIS fitted within Laing’s “core strategy” six months ago, when they were re-bidding to take over the running of the libraries in Croydon, the London borough where Laing are 50-50 partners in a £450 million property development scheme?
Or maybe it didn’t…
Coming to Croydon
- Lakes Playground group’s fundraising Zumba-ween: Oct 26
- PJ’s enterprising look at Black History Month: Oct 29
- The Railway Children: Oct 30-Nov 2
- St Giles School open morning: Nov 13
- Secret Love at the Ashcroft Theatre: Nov 14
- Future Tech City: Nov 30
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- Council faces massive compensation bill over housing failings (insidecroydon.com)
- Council warned over ceramics auction (bbc.co.uk)
- Riesco Collection at Croydon Museum (lineandwash.blogspot.com)