Brighton City Council Greens have pledged to “re-examine” the council’s ambitious structural reform programme and re-direct it towards “green values” following their victory in council elections this month.
The Greens, who are set to lead a minority administration after taking 23 of the council’s 54 seats, raised concerns in opposition that the plans would be “provide a platform for service cuts and the privatisation of services”.
Council leader-elect Bill Randall (Green) told LGC he had “no problem” with the principles behind the “intelligent commissioning model” but wit the way the programme, launched by the previous Tory-led administration, was being rolled out.
Jason Kitcat (Green), set to take up the post of cabinet member for finance, added: “It is early days, we have not yet officially formed an administration, but we would like to re-examine the plans and drive them more towards green values.”
“The term ‘commissioning’ has a lot of connotations; our concerns were that it would lead to outsourcing and privatisation.”
Council chief executive John Barradell told LGC a re-examination of “the priorities” by a new administration was to be expected. “The re-examination will be on who will provide the services rather than on the whole process,” he said.
The council has previously indicated that the voluntary sector, social enterprises and companies will have a greater role in service provision under the new model with the council focusing more on commissioning services rather than direct provision.
However, as with other councils looking at re-structuring with a greater emphasis on commissioning, unions and left-wing politicians have frequently expressed concerns that such models will lead to privatisation by the back door.
Mr Barradell said that the Brighton commissioning model was “agnostic” towards who provided services. “The problem is that to some extent the language has been hijacked. Commissioning in itself does not necessarily mean outsourcing,” he added.
Cllr Randell told local media last summer: “We have become increasingly concerned about the proposed commissioning structure as more details have emerged.
“We accept chief executive John Barradell’s good intentions in wishing to reorganise the way the council works.
“However, we believe the proposals would provide a platform for service cuts and the privatisation of services at a time when a Conservative-led government is cutting budgets and services with relish and beyond necessity.”