Privatisation plan causes concern for the opposition

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CONCERNS have been raised that the ‘public servant’ is being lost as a council looks to privatise some of its services.

Leaders at Havant Borough Council agreed to forge ahead with a plan to outsource administration, facilities management, licensing and property management.

An existing contract with Capita for customer services – which has a team working in Havant – could also be reviewed as part of the deal.

The four other councils involved in the potential new contract are Hart District, Mendip District, South Oxfordshire District and the Vale of White Horse District councils.

It comes as reduced government funding means Conservative-led Havant needs to save £1.5m in the next five years – or else face a deficit.

But Liberal Democrat Leigh Park Councillor Faith Ponsonby said she was uncomfortable with the plan.

She said: ‘What concerns me is the loss of what we used to call “public servants”.

‘The great strength of councils and council officers and employees is the loyalty they have to the organisation. They don’t do it because they are after a lot of money. They do it because they want to serve their communities.’

She argued private firms could be led by profit margins, adding: ‘I’m not happy because it’s a loss of control.’

But she added that the contract with Capita had worked well.

Leader Mike Cheshire stressed that no decisions had been made and there was lots of work ahead before firm plans are made.

He said: ‘We’re in the 21st century.

‘If we have to go out to businesses and other organisations to get economies of scale, we will.’

He said the council would not consider outsourcing to any organisation unless it ‘provided value to the residents’.

In other council matters, Havant’s parking warden service is set to be led by East Hampshire District Council in Petersfield. The move will save £50,000 a year in office functions, but the wardens will still be based in Havant.